Testing as Symptom
But despite never having taken standardized tests, a group of students at the Great Barrington Rudolph Steiner School tested in the top 10 percent nationwide on the SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test); one student tested in the top 2 percent.
“We are really fortunate that we get to know students on a different level than is often possible in large state schools, where teachers are changed more frequently,” says GBRSS teacher Pamela Giles. “We’ve got continuity; the class/teacher/student relationship can continue for eight years in core subjects. We’re constantly assessing every child through observation and written work—our students do a tremendous amount of writing. We give tests—essay tests, multiple choice tests, spelling tests, printed tests—we’re not afraid of them; they’re tools. We have many eyes viewing this one child, and if we see any red flags we give diagnostic tests, do oral testing. We just don’t use standardized tests.
“Testing in itself is not necessarily traumatic. We just don’t need those. I think our alumni worldwide prove that children thrive on expectation, not pressure, and being surrounded by people who are completely dedicated to them doing the best they possibly can. I think that’s what public school teachers want to do, too—all this testing is just a fingernail clipping of a larger social issue.”