What Test Scores Don’t Measure

The last couple of weeks have been particularly discouraging for me as a teacher. We’ve been in the middle of state testing, as well as conducting placement tests for the following year. During state testing, I gave my students a placement test to help us determine which students may need extra support in the following year. While no one’s students performed well on this test, I was very discouraged by my student’s scores. It’s not that they did terribly but they didn’t do as well as I would have hoped.

So, here is where I am going to get transparent. You know me, I am passionate about sharing my stories – the high and the low moments. It’s important for others to know how you feel in the classroom. But…

I felt like a failure as a teacher. I felt like I failed my students. I felt like I hadn’t done enough for them. 

I know, it’s a bit dramatic. But, if you’ve been following my blog for some time, then you know that I am a perfectionist and a people pleaser. These are two terrible attributes as a person, especially if that person is also a teacher. The fact that my students didn’t perform well on this test – this ONE test – pretty much put me into a mini-depression for that entire week.

Then I realized something…I realized that there is so much that test scores don’t measure. Content is important – but it’s not the only thing we are teaching our students. There are so many skills, whether content skills or soft skills, that we can teach our students every day.

So, to help my sanity and my awful mood, I started to write down the things that test scores don’t measure.

  • Test scores don’t measure the students that used to hate math but now love coming to math class.
  • Test scores don’t measure the amount of perseverance my students have gained this year.
  • Test scores don’t measure the fact that my students took two hours on a placement test – knowing that it wasn’t a grade!
  • Test scores don’t measure relationships.
  • Test scores don’t measure the soft skills my students have developed this year.
  • Test scores don’t measure my student’s ability to collaborate, communicate or their creativity.
  • Test scores don’t measure the empathy or kindness that my students demonstrate towards my struggling students.
  • Test score’s don’t measure the 30+ students that come to my classroom every day for lunch because it’s their safe space.
  • Test score’s don’t measure the fact that my students can verbally explain their content knowledge in an inquiry-based setting.

I could keep going…but I think you get the point. 😉

Then, I asked some of my students what they felt like test scores did not measure. Here were a few of their answers:

  • Test scores don’t measure how smart I am.
  • Test scores don’t measure my potential.
  • Test scores don’t measure how kind I am.
  • Test scores don’t measure my personality.

There is so much that test scores don’t measure. So, in this season of stress and discouragement, remember that there is a lot that you have done for your students this year that goes beyond their content knowledge.

Finally, let me clarify, I am not saying that test scores are not important. Please understand that there is such a value to these scores and how they help to guide instruction. However, at times, we must also reflect on all the other wonderful things our students have learned from us this year.

What do test scores not measure in your classroom? Share in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “What Test Scores Don’t Measure

  1. What an honest reminder for us all amid this testing season. Like you, I value what test scores do provide us with and feel they are beneficial to a great extent. You’ve also reminded me to appreciate the limitations testing data has — that we must recognize and celebrate those non-testable achievements. The respect for a content, the genuine love of learning, and the pursuit of inquiry are all mindsets that I strive to foster in my classroom. In this age where our students can Google nearly anything, it’s the experiences that they take with them long after they leave our classrooms. The genuine feeling of pride a student gets after persevering through a challenge and accomplishing something they never thought they could do is both untestable and irreplaceable. I live for moments like those — thanks for the reminder. ☺️

  2. Fantastic post! I just taught a class tonight and felt like I failed the group. That did not measure the happiness that one particular student expressed even though our exercise did not work out completely. That did not measure the other good information I was able to share with an interested group. I think I needed your post today more than ever. <3 Thank you!!

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