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The wrong kind of testing

A common complaint from students is that there are too many tests.

I don’t think that’s true. Let me explain it.

The issue isn’t too much testing, but the wrong kind of testing.

Diagnosis vs. Yardstick

Somewhere along the way, the educational systems have changed the meaning of testing. It went from being used as a diagnostic tool to being used as a stake in the ground.

Test as a yardstick

If you use a test as a yardstick, you:

  • want to pass it

  • fear being wrong, because that means you’re stupid

  • see it as a measure of who you are

  • see it as a one time thing that you have to do

Test as a diagnosis

If you use any kind of test in in this way, you:

  • want to understand better your knowledge and expertise

  • want to see where you were wrong to focus on those areas and improve

  • don’t see the results as defining, but as a momentary image of your abilities

  • don’t see the test as a one time thing, but one step on a continuous journey of improvement

We as individuals and schools and other institutions should adopt the diagnostic view of tests. Testing is for measuring growth, not for measuring what you can cram into your brain once.

Don’t test and move on; test, see your weak points and learn.