Just ran across this article in the Washington Post about an adult on a school board utterly failing their state’s standardized English and math tests. I admit. I was curious and took the sample quizzes myself. I only missed one math question (and that’s because I didn’t carefully read the question). I didn’t miss any of the English ones. Now, before I gloat about passing a test meant for 10th graders, I will say that I am generally a great multiple-guess test-taker. (Years of Princeton Review books during high school certainly help!) My doing well is partially my ability to retain my high school education as well as knowing how to think like the test makers. (Keep in mind, my brain follows babies all day. I hardly use this part of my brain at all!)

Personally, I think standardized tests are unnecessary for the most part. However, I do think that absent a better means to evaluated millions of students, I can see why universities use them. I also understand why states use them to evaluate the efficacy of their schools. But just because I can see WHY people in power use these tests doesn’t mean I think they tell you particularly much about the student. All these tests tell you is that you’re good at taking that particular test.

Unfortunately, I have yet to encounter a standardized test that will predict success at LIFE. And isn’t that really what we are trying to set up for our children? I’ll tell you a dirty secret: I was a pretty fucking smart kid. I excelled at school, the subjects, graduated top in my high school, got into UCLA (as well as a bunch of other awesome schools). Yet when I got to college, I completely bombed. Why? Because I was with a bunch of other super smart kids. I could no longer get by on my innate smarts – I had to STUDY. What?? Given the option to rise to the occasion, I did not. I just coasted along and got C’s and stuck to the middle of the curve (unless it happened to be a subject I had a natural affinity for – then, I did very well).

When I graduated, I got some good jobs and was successful at them, but then, I became a financial advisor. Let me tell you something: being great at high school or being smart has absolutely NOTHING to do with being a good financial advisor. Also, let me qualify what “good” means in terms of financial advising when you work for a firm. It has nothing to do with how well you actually advise your clients. It has everything to do with how many NEW clients and NEW assets you bring in. You are considered a stellar financial advisor based solely on how much money you make the company! (ie: How good of a salesperson are you?)

Being a good salesperson is not taught in a school. It cannot be tested on a standardized test.

That is just one example. Of course, there are plenty of counter examples. For instance, I would NOT want to be in any building, on any structure, or use any engineered thing if the originators/manufacturers of these objects were NOT stellar in school. Exploding due to bad math/science is not the way I planned on leaving this Earth.

However, barring the occupations that actually apply math/science (or any specialized field) at a very high level, I find college a waste in terms of successful job doing and life living skills. Let’s face it: most jobs aren’t really that difficult. When I worked in a lab, they required my fancy Microbiology decree to get the actual job. But doing the job? A trained monkey could’ve done it!

Take DH for example (which is not to say he is a trained monkey – however much I may wish it). He went to a state school (and took eight years to graduate because he took a break to work full time and hadn’t ever intended to finish school) and did just average on his standardized tests. He was not groomed to be academically awesome as I was. (Being drilled with 20 SAT vocab words every week for six years is grooming!) However, look at him now! He out-earns me by leaps and bounds (even before I became a SAHM), is highly respected in his field, and in general, is very successful. But if you looked at his tests and schoolwork, you probably would not have pegged him for the stellar success that he is now.

Sorry, this post is rambling, and I may have lost the point somewhere in my ranting.

One more thing: one of the test questions was on how to read a graph. A simple X/Y-axis graph where the Y was population and X was years. The question asked you to find what year the population doubled from 4,000,000 people. If indeed these questions are representative of the ones on the test which this school board member took, I find it incredibly troubling that HE COULD NOT READ A FUCKING GRAPH. (The guy blatantly said out of the 60 math questions, he did not know the answer to a single one.)

I’m sorry. If he has a BS in Education and two masters (Education, Education Psychology) and is an alleged successful person who regularly speaks to 22,000 people, HOW CAN HE NOT READ A FUCKING GRAPH??

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