For those of you no longer in school, isn’t it great that we don’t have a test today, or tomorrow? Have you noticed that kids these days are taking way too many tests? Two things seem obvious: 1) everybody agrees there’s too much testing, and 2) no one is doing anything about it. I would add a third point here, which is the fact that kids don’t learn anything from all this testing. In other words, if you compare students who have taken lots of tests to students who have taken only a few–the kids who had less testing are better off. In law school, we had one exam at the end of each semester. No quizzes. No midterms. One final exam, that’s it.
There are a few countries out there that, supposedly, have the whole “education thing” figured out. Take Finland, for example (teachers love Finland, right?). Kids in Finland spend very little time in school, and very little time on standardized tests. But, these kids consistently score top marks worldwide (typically battling for the top spot with Singapore). So, how many standardized tests must Finish kids take per year? None. Not one standardized test in elementary school. Not one standardized test in middle school. Finland kids take one standardized test in their final year of high school. That’s it. I know what you’re thinking: how will we know Little Johnny is doing ok?
Now, before you decide to overhaul our entire American school system, it bears mentioning that Finland has a population of 5 million. We have 326 million people. And, there are pockets of the United States that score higher than Finland, so should Finland adopt the educational system of those parts of our country which score hire than theirs? Where does this comparison game end?
I remember a test in middle school that, basically, was designed to see if we kids could follow instructions. Here’s the basic format:
Teacher: “Alright class, take out your pencils. Read all the instructions before writing down your answers.”
Test: “1. What is 12 times 14? 2. What is the capital of Texas? 3. What is your principal’s name? . . . 20. Don’t write any of your answers on this sheet.”
Yes, this is a sneaky test, and the teacher paces the classroom with a big smirk as the kids frantically write down their answers. Eventually, I caught on to this trickery. I would lock eyes with the teacher as if to say “I can follow instructions, I’m with you, look at my idiot classmates not following instructions….” [legal segue coming up] This same sort of failure to understand the “meaning of words” is why we’ll be examining a violation of probation case today. We have a probation officer, a prosecutor, and a judge–none of whom can follow fairly simple instructions. Shocking, I know. Fuentes v. State, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 7801 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2017). Continue Reading