Maker Faire and Science Education: American kids should be building rockets and robots, not taking standardized tests.

I was at a “serious games” conference several years ago. During a crowded seminar, where I found myself seated on the floor because there were no open seats, one of the industry types was frowning because an educator kept speaking critically of testing. “If you don’t test,” asked the pragmatic businessperson, “how can you assess?”

Now it was the educator’s turn to frown. Where to begin?

From my spot on the floor, I chimed in with, “Testing is a subset of assessment,” and that sort of cleared the air, and the conversation continued.

On a morning visit to a Northern California middle school, I saw not a single student. The principal showed me around campus, but I didn’t see or hear students talking, playing, or moving about. The science lab was empty, as were the library and the playground. It was not a school holiday: It was a state-mandated STAR testing day. The school was in an academic lockdown. A volunteer manned a table filled with cupcakes, a small reward for students at day’s end.

This is what the American public school looks like in 2012, driven by obsessive adherence to standardized testing. The fate of children, their schools, and their teachers are based on these school test scores. I wondered what kind of tests the students were taking. The California Department of Education’s STAR website has sample test questions, and I started looking through them randomly. Soon, I came across the following reading comprehension question about the proper use of a microscope, shown in the illustration below. —Maker Faire and Science Education: American kids should be building rockets and robots, not taking standardized tests. – Slate Magazine.