Original post on April 16, 2012, on Miss P’s Ponderings.

Life seems to be filled with tests.  Passing or failing these tests have rewards and/or consequences.

     As an educator, it seems that the government prompts us to give more and more tests to our students.  To measure our students’ academic progress, we give them various tests throughout the school year.  To assess acquisition of new material, we test their recall and application.  To guide our instruction, we assess what students know prior to the beginning of a new unit of instruction.  Yes, tests fill the lives of elementary students and their teachers.

But what about outside of the education world?  Are there tests in the “real world” that face us?  Of course!  

Have you ever driven down a road and noticed a police car with a scanner aimed at the street?  They’re putting you to the test.  Are you driving at the speed limit?  Are you being a safe driver?  If not, there will be consequences.  I hope you passed these tests and didn’t get a dreaded ticket.

What other tests are there?  Let’s face it….there are more tests each day than this blog can hold.  

If my contract day begins at 7:45a.m., am I going to be there before or after?  If I walk in at 7:46, I failed the test of punctuality.  My students will be forced to wait outside my room until I decide to arrive.  If my class is supposed to arrive at “special class” at 11:06, then…I pass if they arrive at 11:06.  If I arrive too early, did I fail?  Possibly…I took time away from instruction, but if I arrive late I take time away from my instructional planning time.  Tests, tests, tests.  How do we test whether a test is important?

Yet, personally, if I look within myself….to examine the tests that matter most to me, what do I find?

Test 1:  Am I being the person God created me to be?  Do my words and actions bring Him glory?  Do they point others to Him?  If I answer yes…then I pass today’s test.  If my answer is no…then I need to “practice” and assess again.
Test 2:  Am I the family member I need to be?  As a single woman, I examine my relationships with my parents, my sisters, and my nephew.  Am I the daughter, sister, and aunt that I need to be?  Sometimes, I think they would be better at assessing this test than a self-assessment.
Test 3:  Am I the friend I should be?  Do I bring Sonshine or rain into their lives?  Do I encourage or frustrate them?  Again, self-assessment is sometimes difficult on this one.  Perhaps, I should ask my friends to point out areas where I need “remediation”.
Test 4:  Am I the teacher I need to be?  Am I teaching the academic standards I need to cover?  Am I challenging students to go beyond their current level?  Am I engaging my students in their education?  An I differentiating my instruction, so students are taught the material in a manner which works best for them at their ability level?  Perhaps a video camera would help answer most of these questions.
Test 5:  Am I being me?  Have you ever noticed how easy it is to become who “they” want you to be…or expect you to be?  This, too, is a tough test to assess.  Am I being true to who I am?  To whom God made me to be?  Or…am I acting, doing, behaving like “they” want me to, even if it goes against who I am?  

Yes…there are tests all around us.  Sadly, if my third graders fail the I-Read test, the state government says they need to stay in third grade again.  If my students fail ISTEP+, then the fourth grade teachers know what areas they need to focus on when planning their instruction.  If they score badly on one of our various assessments, I reteach and reassess.  

Life is a process…a journey.  I would hate to think that my “performance” one day for a couple hours would determine my path for next year.  Yet, with high-stakes testing…that’s what the government says.  

Yes, life is filled with tests.  If you pass, sometimes you are rewarded.  But…sometimes, passing simply means you’re doing what you need to do.  If you fail, sometimes you are penalized.  But, sometimes, there is mercy & grace, and Someone takes the penalty for you.  And for that…I say thank you. 

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