Steve Hansen: Standardized testing disliked internationally

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By Steve Hansen

QCS Former Managing Editor

On Labor Day, my granddaughter donned a red cardigan and a navy skirt and leotards to spend her first day as an English schoolgirl.

She entered the fourth year at an English school near the Air Force base at which her dad is stationed. That’s the equivalent of third grade, where she belongs chronologically.

While she will find the presence of other American students reassuring, I’m sure she will be discouraged by the length of the school year. It runs from Labor Day to July.

On the other hand there are more frequent breaks and most are longer than American schools allow. I think it all equals out.

Initial evidence indicates she may receive better education in the basics in England.

England’s students outperform their U.S. counterparts on comparable basic-skills tests.

She will be taught according to a mandatory national curriculum and, like American students, subjected to standardized tests at regular intervals.

England has been debating a toughening of the national curriculum but seems to accept the mandatory standard, unlike Americans opposed to the Common Core, which is not mandatory.

As in America, however, there seems to be some backlash in England against standardized testing.

With test score reports, one English school principal recently added a thoughtful letter that has gone viral.

“The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you — the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do,” the letter says.  “They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture.

“They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day.”

The letter concludes, “The scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. … So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.”

My granddaughter’s parents had a choice between a base school and the local school, and I think they have chosen well.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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