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Assessment Methods: Easy For You or Best For Them?

Assessment Methods: Easy For You or Best For Them?

Do you remember watching the television show Make a Wish? For a while, it was televised on Saturday, but I mainly remember seeing it if we played hooky from church on Sunday. The star of the show was Tom Chapin. One site reminds my cobwebbed covered mind that Chapin would introduce the topic of the show like this – “I think a snake is what I’ll be. Imagine all the possibilities.” After that there would be a sort of free association featuring stock footage, animation, and Chapin’s music and voiceover commentary. You can see the opening and closing for the show here.

The show was a great example of getting kids to be creative with their thoughts by thinking outside the box.

Well, Tom got older. I grew up, and got older myself. By 1976 the show had been cancelled and replaced with something else. Sadly, Tom’s brother, Harry, died far too soon as many seemed to do in the 70s and early 80s. Tom kept being creative, however, and his latest efforts can be seen in the video at the bottom of the page.

Tom’s explanation about the song and the full lyrics can be found here. Tom relates how he appreciates the job teachers do and states that anything that excites a student, opens their eyes, and hearts and minds is a positive that makes a child invest in school. He states that music, art, drama, and sports kept him involved in school and laments that many of these have been and are in the process of being cut in various districts across the United States due to standardized testing.

Chapin states, “Now we are teaching by rote again – where the test, and only the test, becomes the reason to teach and study.”

Finally, and I think my old Sunday morning friend, Tom, makes a very valid point when he states, “It’s no secret that American industry has outsourced most factory jobs to other countries to take advantage of cheaper labor costs. So why are we putting so much effort into a form of education in which there is no creativity? This is the time that our youth should be taught to think ”out of the box,” not be put into a tighter one!

Every year we use those all important test scores to make a judgment regarding where students are in their reading ability. Far too often I find the test score that determines the placement is a poor picture of what the child can actually do or not do – yet we are told repeatedly this is what we must measure by.


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