Listen, I’m not going to sit here and act like I enjoyed taking tests when I was a kid because I didn’t. I hated it. I hated listening to the proctor. I hated the little piece of scratch paper that I got during the test that I had to turn in. I hated the whack stories I had to read for the reading comprehension portion of the test. I guess you get the point by now. But you know what, it was what it was. The truth is, if I couldn’t perform on that test, then it was a testament that my education up to that point wasn’t up to snuff. Again, not the only way to tell what kids know but a solid one.
In Oakland, our students’ SBAC results have just been released. SBAC is a new form of testing that the State of California administers. The test evaluates English Language Arts and Math. Now I know folks will say everyone isn’t a good test taker and I’ll concede that. What I won’t concede is that poor Black kids in poor schools are all bad test takers while white kids in the hills are all amazing test takers. Nope. Can’t do it. I get that tests are culturally biased, I get that those school have different resources but I won’t concede that our Black and Brown babies just cannot learn. We can’t be distracted by the mere taking of tests from the fact that those results are showing that our babies can’t read or write.
I’m spending time, real time with community members and parents in my hometown to actually dive into the data of what we are learning from these tests. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. We can’t keep complaining about the taking of the test without addressing what the test is telling us. So I wouldn’t call testing the Bogeyman but we can find ways to do that better, no doubt. But while the “testing” may be the battle, what the scores are telling us about our kids is the war and we mustn’t lose sight of that.