I find it fascinating and disturbing how much emphasis we place on paper/pencil evaluations in the school system when the overwhelming majority of job related assessments are performance-based. This works quite well for me now, but getting to this point was a challenge.
The problem? I don’t test well when it comes to traditional assessments, and as a result, did very poorly in school. My SAT and ACT scores were frightening and I came very close to not getting my graduate degree due to my GRE score, which I believe was in the bottom 5% of the country. I still have post-traumatic stress thinking about having to read a passage and answer isolated questions.
Of course, the aspects of school in which I thrived (and tested well) were all novel and differentiated – speeches, projects, performances. Luckily, these experiences prepared me well for my adult career. I feel very fortunate I did not let traditional school assessments define my potential. I can’t help but wonder how many students really struggle through school, only to discover they are just fine when they get out into the work force.
There is a huge emphasis on differentiating instruction in the school system, which I applaud. [In fact, I try to model the concept in every staff development session I facilitate.] However, until we differentiate the manner in which we test our students, we will continue to miss the mark in helping them reach their true potential.