Standardized Testing and Dyslexic Students
This is about the time of year when school districts across the country administer standardized testing. From my point of view, standardized testing and dyslexic students don’t mix too well. At least in the case of my own son with dyslexia—who always wanted to do well in school—but the very idea of spending days taking state-mandated standardized tests stressed him out, even in elementary school.
So my husband and I decided to exempt him from taking them. Instead, he took our son camping during testing week every year until high school. I guarantee that both of them got a lot more out of heading into nature than if he had stayed in the classroom wrestling with one test after another.
And here’s the most important part about all of that: Those standardized tests that were so stressful—even just in anticipation—in no way would have measured his knowledge, his intelligence or his ability to succeed in school or in life.
Yes, we know all about how very important those standardized tests are for data collection, for assessing program and teacher effectiveness and determining the school’s ranking.
But for a dyslexic kid who has trouble keeping on track with a Scan Tron, who second-guesses every multiple choice question that could be true, and who takes forever to read the questions, these standardized tests are a disaster when they’re taken—and even worse when the low-level score is reported.
A Study produced by the Council of the Great City Schools estimates that students take 112 standardized tests throughout their K-12 careers.
My son took one: The ACT in his senior year, complete with College Board-approved accommodations for extra time, a reader and alternate setting for the exam. And his scores were good enough to qualify him for an academic scholarship at a 4-year private college.
Maybe the exercise of taking 111 more standardized tests would have helped give him enough testing training to get better scores on the ACT. Maybe not. But neither he nor my husband would trade the unforgettable bonding time they spent in nature together for a couple more points on a standardized test.
So what about standardized testing and dyslexic students? Parents need to decide what to do, with their child’s best interests in mind.