Myra Blackmon, a regular education writer in Athens, Georgia, concludes that our current emphasis on high-stakes testing is the antithesis of good education.

“I am sick to death of these demands for college and career readiness, including terrible policies of grading schools based on test scores, insisting a principal’s performance evaluation be based at least 70 per cent on test scores, and, like South Carolina did last year, making all 11th graders take the ACT college entrance examination, then evaluating them as “not ready” – even though they were still more than a year away from graduation.”

She adds,

“It is not the job of schools to make these experiences available. I did the bulk of my own career exploration through my involvement in Girl Scouts and my church’s youth group. My parents encouraged me to work, and carefully coached me on being a good employee.

“It is the job of the community to provide and support such opportunities, to help kids learn how to apply for a job, to practice interviewing and to try out areas of interest. It is the schools’ job to teach them to count money and make change, but it is the job of family and community to be sure that students understand the true value of money and hard work, to be able to choose quality merchandise, and save money for major purchases.

“We must be serious about this. We simply must stop the severe over-testing and give students real-life opportunities to be prepared for life after high school graduation. We must trust teachers to evaluate their students’ understanding using portfolios, simulation and other assessment techniques.

“If we truly want our high school graduates to be ready for the next steps in their lives, we have to let go of over-testing and support helping them learn and experience the things that will prepare them for life.”