Balance, Cognitive Reframing, Cognitive Restructuring, Education, Human Performance, Standardized Testing, Stress Management

Standardized Testing – The god of our schools

Today’s post may seem totally unrelated to what I usually write about (health, wellness, stress management, etc.), but for me it is totally correlated. The health of our society can easily be seen in our public schools because schools are a microcosm representation of our society — a reflection, if you will. The poem below was written during a time when I was a public school teacher. You may recognize some of the frustration I was experiencing, but at the same time I think you will be acquainted with the situations described within . . .

Standardized tests are nothing new. In the early part of my teaching career we gave standardized tests each year. It was the late 70’s. The teachers in our school were given the testing materials and we decided when to administer the test and how to arrange the testing schedule. We kept the tests in our own classrooms and never (as is the case today) had to sign them out under penalty of losing our job if something went wrong. The test was simply a measure of the progress a child put forth. I never heard of a teacher cheating by changing answers to make kids pass — there just wasn’t that kind of emphasis placed on one certain test given at one certain part of the school year. Teachers did not lose jobs over standardized testing because the test was in its proper place. We simply let the chips fall where they may. We were encouraged to educate – NOT to teach the test. And that is what we did.

Something has gone dreadfully wrong. We have placed too much emphasis on testing, giving it a power that it cannot live up to, and was never designed to provide.

Standardized Testing – The god of our schools

The god of our schools is the standardized test –
It is used to see if we’re doing our best –
There are minimal standards that must be met –
We call it “annual progress’ – hmmm – and yet . . .

Will we ever truly be doing our best
If “minimal” standards are all that we test?
Where’s the drive to excel – to exceed – to do more?
Will these ever show up in our standard test score?

Many students I see, who just sit and won’t try –
Motivation is lacking, but they think they’ll get by
In this life with no effort – no effort at all –
But unless this changes they are in for a fall.

The plan needs three parts to see all of the features –
We need hard-working parents and students and teachers –
Educators are held accountable – so . . . . . . . .
Now it’s time for parents to get back in the show!

Values have shifted – expectations have changed –
Our culture has gotten a bit de-arranged –
Schools are expected to pick up the slack –
But home-training is missing and we need it back!

School is a community reflection of sorts
Of what’s out in the world – the good AND the warts –
Accountability for parents and students must rival
Accountability for teachers to ensure our survival!

The standardized test is not our savior –
It can’t measure motivation or proper behavior –
Test scores won’t fix education alone –
We’re trying to make too much soup from one bone!

Poem written April 6, 2011

Remember to be good to you!

Copyright © 2013 by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.

Learning Testing Educating

Standardized tests are nothing new. In the early part of my teaching career we gave standardized tests each year. It was the late 70’s. Teachers did not lose jobs over standardized testing because the test was in its proper place. We were encouraged to educate – NOT to teach the test.

Dr. Gary Flegal is a Behavioral Medicine and Health Specialist with a doctorate in “Health Education and Human Performance” from Michigan State University. He is an exciting and accomplished presenter and keynote speaker, presenting seminars for groups and companies on location and at conventions. His advanced training in stress management came to him while working in affiliation with the original Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard under the direction of Herbert Benson, M.D. and his staff. In addition to corporate presentations, Dr. Flegal keeps a busy schedule working with individual clients for a variety of stress-related issues, including anger management, quitting smoking, learning to relax and manage stress, and learning self-hypnosis.

Dr. Flegal’s other passion is magic. He has been a professional magician for over 30 years and continues practicing his art at every opportunity. These two passions work together beautifully as he illustrates stress management concepts with fun, visual, and “magical” demonstrations in his stress management workshops and seminars. It also allows him to share stress management with his magic audiences wherever he goes because “Laughter is the Best Medicine!” Gary is a Reiki Master and a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists.

Dr. Flegal’s specialties include stress management, anger management, positive behavior change, insomnia, smoking cessation, and exercise physiology. For individual appointments, speaking engagements, or more information, contact Gary at Professional Stress Management Services in Nashville, Tennessee, at (615)812-7280 or through his Web site:

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One thought on “Standardized Testing – The god of our schools

  1. Good thoughts…do you ever feel alone? It would appear as though there is a minority of problem solvers and a majority of problem creators (stressors). Tough world to crack…but I’ll never give up trying!

    Posted by Cindy Guggino | March 4, 2013, 12:28 pm

Posts by Dr. Gary Flegal

March 2013


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