For a moment, I drew a blank. Other students have asked the same thing; I just didn’t expect to hear it from my own daughter. As a mom, I encourage her to learn everything she can. As a teacher, I know many teachers do projects and fun activities after CSTs. As both, I was frustrated that even a 9 year-old believes that, once CSTs are done, there is nothing more to accomplish.
What Micaela misunderstood was that her entire year’s learning was just for those test days. She thought the CSTs were THE WHOLE reason for school. So her conclusion made sense… if CSTs were done, her reason for school was done. But there is so much more to school than the few days of CSTs.
CSTs are a useful tool that helps us see how students are learning. They provide important information to know if students are learning the essentials. However, CSTs are not all there is to an education.
Today, being an educated person just begins with what we teach and learn in school. It goes beyond that to being able to use what we are taught, to think critically about the world around us, to be able to work with others, to make connections between what we are learning and what happens in real life. An education is a set of tools that takes us from preschool into our futures.
This is what we do as teachers… help students look ahead, with only part of that being tests.
As for my answer to Micaela’s question: I told her I’m excited to see how she did on her CSTs. I also pointed out that we actually don’t go to school just for tests; we go to learn all the cool things out there to learn. At first, I wasn’t sure she believed me, until she came home at the end of the day and said, “Mommy, did you know you can use rounding to figure out how much we owe when we buy groceries?” Now, that’s why we go to school.
About the Author: Michelle Gates, Impact Teacher at Emory, has been teaching for 6 years. She is the extremely proud mother of Charisa, Anthony, and Micaela. She loves to read and sing.