Which Test do we want our young people to pass?

Imagine being a high school senior and graduation is approaching. The excitement of knowing that you will soon walk over that bridge into adulthood is nerve racking. Your prom was amazing! Even the people who irritated you during your high school years recieves your warm hugs and words of encouragement.  Just the thought of moving out of your comfort zone releases tears of joy and sadness onto your shirt. Do you remember that feeling? Now I want you to add this to the equation, there is a test approaching that will be the determining factor on whether or not all of your years in school was in vain. This beast, this monster, this barrier is a standardized test known as the “OGT.” Sounds scary doesn’t it?

On the Ohio Education Department’s website it defines the OGT by stating that the “Ohio Graduation Tests (OGT) are a key part of Ohio’s education reform to establish an aligned system of standards, assessments and accountability for Ohio schools. The testing requirements were established by the Ohio General Assembly in 2001 based on recommendations by the Governor’s Commission for Student Success. Tests in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies make up the OGT.”

Because of the “importance” of this test teachers spend the whole year educating our children to pass a test. A test that has become a wall. An unneccesary wall that some children bust through, others climb and some just don’t have the energy to overcome. Our educational system has shifted its mission from giving our children the tools to pass the test of life to passing a test that in no way determines the true potential of young people. We are teaching them to make the right choices on a two hour test rather than encouraging them to make the right choices throughout their lives.

If you want to see one of the saddest days in Cleveland travel to the schools when OGT scores are returned to the students. Imagine a high school student who is looking forward to moving on to the next level but is haulted by a “unnecessary wall.” Young people who were sure that they would be turning the tassels on their graduation hats now has to return the classroom embarrassed and defeated.  The OGT and tests like it are doing more harm than good. It is tricking our brilliant young people into believing that their success is based on how well they do for 180 minutes instead of the character that they need to get through a lifetime.

 I would be foolish to suggest that there shouldn’t be standards for our teachers or our students, but what are we preparing them for? As you read this paragraph that explains the mission of the OGT you can’t help but to agree with its language. You can’t help but to say, “Yeah, your right! Accountability, aligned standards these are necessary components to education reform.” But is it really? I strongly believe that education reform is deeper than whats going on in the classroom. Statistics show that 85% of student achievement has nothing to do with the classroom. This shows us that if we want educational reform we must also strive to impact families and communities. This is the problem with No Child left behind, every child has a story that must be understood  and aligned standards is not the way to go.

In closing, I urge the Governor of Ohio to remove the OGT and put in its place community service events, senior papers, things that will build character that will help them pass this test called life.


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