I don’t know if you are familiar with this saying from the south, but I heard it at a recent HIgh Schools that Work (HSTW) conference…
“Weighing a pig over and over won’t make it fatter!”
This is a popular anti-testing quip that seems so “common sense” but reveals a distressing lack of understanding about how weighing [testing] can inform the farmer [teacher] about whether the feed [instruction] is benefiting the pig [student].
I will be sad if I don’t get one comment claiming that I am calling students pigs or animals – I hope you get the point of the metaphor/analogy.
Anyway, the key idea is not really about testing – it’s about good teaching. We test to monitor the learning that has occurred as a result of our teaching. It isn’t about taking the measurement, it is about informing us whether or not what we are doing is causing a change in short term result. If we don’t check often on a small scale, then we are literally just acting and hoping that it will make a difference and not really getting confirmation about our practices until much later (maybe at the end of the year in the form of a standardized test)!
FEED YOUR PIGS! Everyday!
And check often to see if they are getting fatter! If it is working spread the news, if they are starving find some better food!