Assess. Not too much. Mostly Teach.

When I got up this morning, I groaned at this thought – “I have a freaking test today!” And I’m not in elementary or middle or high school anymore. This was a CA driver’s license test. I’ve been driving for almost 30 years and have a nearly flawless record, but this wasn’t enough to obtain my license in a different state.

For the 36 multiple-choice question test, you can study the CA driver handbook. It’s only 108 pages long. Don’t think that CA rules are the same other states’ rules either. The “urban and residential areas” speed limit in CA is 25 miles per hour. In IL it is 30 mph. A school zone speed limit in CA is still 25 mph, but in IL it drops to 20 mph.

After this anxiety-ridden experience, this is my thought now. “Wow. We do this to kids – all the time. Why?” My daughter, a fifth grader who is in a public school for the first time this year, said the other day, “Mom? You know I never had a test until this year and now we have tests all the time.” I resisted launching into a commentary on this.

A few years ago, I heard Regie Routman speak at the Illinois Reading Council Conference. She’d just read Michael Pollen’s In Defense of Food. The subtitle on the cover is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” She used Pollen’s thinking as a frame for educators – “Assess. Not too much. Mostly teach.” This has stuck with me, but I’m not sure in the field in general much has changed.

Maybe our policymakers should have to renew their driver’s licenses – and take a test to do so. 😦


3 thoughts on “Assess. Not too much. Mostly Teach.

  1. Cathe McCoy

    Sunday, this makes me smile. As a Californian moving to Arkansas I was surprised to find there is no test, and if a person needs help with the vision screening major scaffolding is provided. Hmmm…there are a lot of accidents here in the retirement area of the NW Arkansaas. Maybe a few summatives are needed. I am still reading your wonderful book on Informational Text. My problem is I am also reading about 5 other books. I will write you a wonderful review.
    Cathe 🙂 (saturdaymorning coffee and common core)


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