Our son’s school tests kids every couple of months (most schools do the same). Speaking with some of the other parents – most of the kids are getting stressed out over them. Maybe I’m old fashioned but these kids aren’t even teenagers yet.

My frustration is not only with the amount of testing, it’s with what is being tested. We currently focus on such a limited range of skills and are so inflexible on how the tests are operated. Not all kids are suited to the current testing environment.

I was talking to one parent whose child has really struggled to reach the set expected performance levels. However this child is brilliant. I’ve seen her paintings and cartoon sketches. Unfortunately we don’t have a test environment which allows her to demonstrate this brilliance. No government targets for painting.

Our son astounds me with his knowledge and understanding of history. He is scheduled to do a school test which is about the Battle of Hastings. He has a forensic knowledge in the area. Last night he spent two minutes explaining details of Bishop Odo who took part in the battle. The night before he explained in detail what William did after victory including how he persecuted the north. So if we could design a test environment so he could just talk for 30 minutes about the battle and then verbally answer detailed questions – then he could demonstrate his brilliance.

Problem is the test is to write a one page essay on the battle. Without help then he has no chance. Even with help he won’t be able to shine. This can’t be right. No government targets for developing autistic kids with dyslexia.


I always thought I was pretty good on history. I tried to show this off to our son.

“William the Conqueror brought his army to the field in October 1066”

My so called knowledge was shot down in one line…

“Dad it was the 14th and he was not at that stage William the Conqueror. He was called William Duke of Normanby or sometimes William the Bastard because his mum was unmarried. The Conqueror was first referred to in around 1120, sorry I can’t be more precise”.

77 thoughts on “Testing times

  1. I’ve talked to so many teachers and parents who are frustrated with the emphasis on testing. With high stakes tests playing such a large role in accreditation and district rankings, school administrations find themselves forced to really focus on preparing for the assessments. Over the years I’ve become more and more convinced that educational policy needs to be examined to find a more comprehensive way to measure school and student achievement.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree!

    If it makes you feel any better, we have laws that (if one gets an IEP and some other acronym after that) the kids CAN have the test given to them in a way they are able to take it. They still have to record it in some way that satisfies the input, as you’ve noted, but some kids CAN just tell their aide the answers after having the questions read to them.

    …not that it helps in the case of the artistic child; more in the case of the autistic one.

    Advanced education bothers me over here in America. I really like the idea of catering to more trade vocations, instead of just ‘go to college.’

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Here you may be granted some additional time and the use of a reader or reading pen. But it just feels like these approaches won’t work for some kids still. When Our son has used a reader he has said that he feels shy and won’t ask for sections to be reread so he goes on one listening. I tend to read twice then focus reading on key sections. He sat a recent French test. The kids were allowed to scan there textbooks for clues, the school would argue that kids like our son should put there hand up and ask for help but are not allowed to ask anything about the question except get the question read again. Madness.

      I think we are similar in the U.K., we often hear that we are trying teaching techniques from the USA. It feels like education is still about fitting kids into the desired career holes rather than developing them.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Do schools and universities prepare students for life? Learning is not about testing for knowledge at a certain point in time, a lot of this is just memory work. Students should be taught that learning is a life long process especially because western civilization are making such strides in technology. How will they cope thirty years from now. Your blog has raised some interesting questions.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have a child with Adhd and she is super creative but when it comes to the traditional way of schooling she seems to be limited. I believe that schools should look into ability groups. Teach children in ways that play on their strengths. We are only holding ourselves back from advancing at a much faster pace. Not everyone learns the same way so why are we still teaching the same way?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree. We should be promoting the creativity in your child. It just feels like society prefers to have average or below average performers who fit into a set mood rather than try to get individuals who excel in whatever area that suits the kid. I remember hearing a UK Government Minister say that he would rather have a child who could correctly spell a particular word rather than have a kid who might misspell the word but understood a vast range of alternate words.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You hit the nail on the head. Our world would rather produce average results in all areas of our lives rather than GREAT results in certain areas. The wonderful thing is, blogs like these that will create discussion and bring awareness to these topics. I’m with you!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. To take this off onto another track and offer some hope for the future, it is these very children and their challenges that are changing the educational system for the better. As I speak of this from a spiritual viewpoint, I cannot prove it, but can only share the experience I have witnessed through my daughter and her sons.

    Her four sons were diagnosed with various levels of ADD, ADHD, Autism and Aspergers. She fought the system throughout the years of their educational experience, even going so far as taking the two younger ones out of public school and enrolling them in private school – all to no avail, for them. Yet, we have seen many good changes come about because of her bringing the shortcomings in the educational system, where these children are concerned, to the attention of those in a position to do something about it. Too late for her sons, perhaps, but not for those that have followed after.

    She was exceptionally gifted in many areas, one of which was her ability to access Higher Realms, yet, she was diagnosed as dyslexic and ADD herself! Through information she brought forth, we were told that these children are not in any way abnormal. Instead, they are the evolutionary forerunners of the new Humanity. They are already prepared for a world we cannot yet see!

    And so, I offer this information as a ray of hope. They are the Gift of the Future. Love them. accept them as they are with that heart-felt knowledge that it is our old society that must change and not them. They are already prepared for what is to come. How can we with our limited 3D brain comprehend their Brilliance. We cannot! But we can protect and guide them through the morass of these lower frequencies until the new is firmly established. And that is our role as parents. In the meantime, enjoy them , my Dears, enjoy them!

    From my HEART to your HEART, in Love, Betty 💞

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for these words of hope. In the U.K. it is down to the parents and the children themselves to fight for educational opportunities for kids with Autism, Dyslexia, ADD and ADHD. I completely agree that where wins occur it improves the educational system. Unfortunately at present the wins are too sporadic to positively change the whole educational system. We are also fighting a climate of resource cuts in which many of the choices of our politicians are perverse. We all live in the hope that the work of all the parents and children will eventually lead to that revolution in education. When that happens we will all flourish.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Schools aren’t about teaching, they are about indoctrination. Regurgitate what we tell you. Memorize it so that we look like we are imparting necessary knowledge. Square peg? Fit into the round hole…or else. The world needs worker bees, not thinkers…or brilliance. *sigh*

    You know, the above comment…I’ve often wondered if the rise in Autism is not a result of damage but, a slow human evolution.

    I like your son’s world (imagination) better than this one. Bring on the dragons & dinos! 🐲🐉🦕🦖

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m not as familiar with the UK school systems, but over here they do the same periodic testing and it is not for the benefit of the child, but to assess the teachers. Teachers’ pay increases and tenure depend on a certain percentage of their students scoring well. Which is NOT fair to the children. It is just another stress added to their lives, and in the case of your son, definitely not helpful. Your son is obviously sharp as a tack, based on that snippet of conversation at the end of your post!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Awwww … that is so unfair, and could have repercussions later on, but I think you are largely mitigating the flaws of the public school system with everything you are doing at home. Thumbs up! 👍👍

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And that is a mistake! We’re mucking things up as fast as we can … we are definitely not the ones to emulate. I heard recently that the UK is getting into fracking now, based on our example. Bad move … potential danger to people and planet, with very small payback. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Not to do with fracking or in safe limits. Yeah, right, and I’ve got a lovely bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell them, too. By the time they figure out those ‘minor’ earthquakes were only a precursor to the big one, it will be too late. Sigh. I hate ignorance and greed.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hah!!! It has not gone that well in the U.S. and frankly, the money they are envisioning simply isn’t there. At least, not in quantities that justify the potential risk to life, both human and animal. It’s all got to be about profit, but I wonder how much these profiteers will enjoy their offshore accounts and investment portfolios when they have died because there was no air to breathe, no food to eat, and no water to drink?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It’s the usual mainstream media approach they interview the politician very politely and it becomes just an exercise in unchallenged sound bites. It then cuts to the protests and focus on the negative elements. Painting the protesters as a problem. The protestors don’t get the same platform as our politicians.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree – the testing is more of a stress and is not beneficial to the kids – or even the system because you are right – the tests are not given to the students strengths or abilities. And I love what your son said to you – made me smile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Parents and kids have no say – certainly here, in the testing. I will never forget trying to teach our dyslexic son how to spell cytoplasm. When he’s with a the few people he trusts he is the funniest chap I’ve ever met. He is like Declan they are just beautiful human beings.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, there’s always a constant pressure to do your best in what the education system thinks is the best forgetting that the best a child can do is in a field that isn’t valued, like art or history. Aren’t we creating robots that way? If every field of study was given due importance and exams weren’t a means to test how well you remember, it would have been a lot better.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Agree. I don’t know if this helps but it brings out the idea of testing for the wrong things.
    The monkey and the elephant had to take a test at school one day. The monkey passed with a very high mark but the elephant got a low mark and so failed.. “What part did you fail?’ asked the monkey. “The tree climbing practical” replied the elephant.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When I go to work tomorrow, I’ll get the link to a video which I think many reading your post would appreciate.

    In the meantime, I think one of the problems is actually some parents. They have expectations of school which are in my professional as well as personal opinion at best unhelpful. Eg they want strictness and testing – and no amount of discussion will shift their opinions. They aren’t interested in listening to teachers (who research teaching methodology). They just want rote learning and punishments for children who don’t memorise without thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I soooooo agree with you. Kids can’t all have the same skill sets. It’s like the saying I’ve seen; “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid”.
    I believe it so much that I’ve decided to go back to study next year, doing a graduate cert in autism studies, with the purpose to start working with schools to help them understand how they can better support and understand kids on the spectrum (including testing).
    If u have diagnosis for your son, then you shld be able to request special circumstances (suggested by his specialist) for testing (ie having an aid sit with him whilst he does the test, maybe recording him discussing it etc. this may not cover their required written comprehension side of things, but that’s where the special consideration comes in).
    I’m all huffy now!
    But you’re doing such a great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the 5 years we have been pushing he’s had access to 2 hours observation from an education psychologist. The schools don’t have the skills but can’t afford to buy in the specialist support, so it’s left to the Health Service but they are not allowed to get involved in educational issues.


      1. Take that it’s still not good. Hope it improves quickly. Our son solved the updating issue last night with an animal solution. He thinks they should look at sharks. Some Shark species can apparently sleep and still partially function at the same time. They don’t deep sleep but parts of the brain slow down. So he thinks computers should have at 2 interdependent processors allowing one to continue working while the other updates.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That made me chuckle. Apologies if I be already said this but I once had to send a report to three very senior people where I worked. They were called Area Commanders. Unfortunately on the report that they received they were called Arse Commanders. It was sort of close.

        Liked by 1 person

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