Is the New Kindergarten Career Test Proof that Standardized Tests are Utterly Nonsensical?

Kindergarten career test

I feel your pain, buddy

If you’d asked me what I wanted to be in kindergarten, I definitely would have said an artist, cocktail waitress, police office, actress or mom. If you’d tested me on what I was actually skilled to do, it would have been eat chocolate, sing loudly or land in jail.

I kind of, sort of, but not really get why some standardized achievement tests exist, and for all of those reasons and a few dozen more I always dreaded them starting from the very first one I ever took, which was probably in third grade. Looking back now, I can’t quite discern how tests of their ilk actually helped me, but I know for sure they severely damaged my self-esteem because there were always whispers between my parents and teachers about how my scores never seemed to match up to the rest of my academic profile. I hated and feared those tests to my core and invariably choked as soon as the stopwatch started ticking.

Reading how the folks behind the ACT are developing an academic and behavioral skills test targeting kindergartners (according to The Huffington Post, via the AP) brings back that feeling of nausea that used to wash over me whenever I heard the words, “Pencils ready! Start . . . now!”

Starting in 2014 the kindergarten career test will be available to “track students’ career interests, academic performance and progress towards goals” from kindergarten through high school.

The goal, according to Jon Erickson, president of the ACT’s education division, “is to identify and address gaps in skills needed for college and the workforce. The assessment combines traditional testing with teacher-led projects to generate an instant, digital score.”

I hear all the time about how kindergarten in the new first grade, and how preschoolers are learning to read before reaching kindergarten. I think of both of my daughters with their August birthdays and how they’ll likely be the youngest in their classes (the cutoff is Sept. 15th in our school district), and while I’m not overly concerned how they’ll eventually compare to their classmates as much as I am about their own individual success, I wouldn’t wish these tests on them in kindergarten simply because I think it’s an awful thing to do to such little kids.

Besides? Career goals of kindergartners? Really? No, really? Puh-lease.

I’m sure there is progress to be measured at that age, but is it really necessary? Do the schools really have the tools in place to help kids based on the testing results? Or are tests like this for kindergartners just another way to make some kids feel less than compared to their classmates because they have the ability to test well above all else?

Do you think kindergartners should be taking standardized tests? Do you think the end result will mean better kids, or simply more money in the pockets of the ACT folks and more sense of purpose for less creative educators?

Photo credit: iStock

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