Most of us won’t mind having our children assessed once in a while just to know where they stand relative to other kids. However, don’t buy it totally, especially if it is done at an enrichment center.
The most recent case I’ve heard was an assessment done on a 4 year old boy. Parents wanted him to work on some Mathematics skills and chanced upon this St****** enrichment program. After some 20min of assessment, one of the conclusions given to the parents was that their son did not understand the concept of Place Values.
Place Values?? Seriously? Did they seriously expect a 4 year old to understand Place Value? What is the value of that assessment? To identify prodigies in Maths? What’s the reason for a 4 year old to understand Place Value anyway? So that they can add 3 digits by 2 digits? Come on! He’s only 4!
So the next thing they said to the parent was, “He needs to pick up the skills and our program can help him.” Well, I’m sure the child can learn if he was taught but does he really need it at 4??
Assessments are great for an educator to find out which level of learning is most suitable for the child, but when assessments are used as marketing gimmicks, alarm bells should be rung and the parents should simply walk away from such underhanded stunts to pull in more customers.
Unfortunately, that is not the only center that pulls such stunts to ‘scare’ parents into signing their children up. Many centers out there do that. This also explains why every time I mention “assessment” to parents, they give me a fearful look and start saying that their child does not know how to read yet or that their child is not able to even add. This is really sad because if you are looking for a center to outsource what you can’t teach at home or gain access to in school, you shouldn’t need to feel like your child is inferior in any ways!
A good “assessment” should, therefore, target the learning ability of the child, discover what the child can potentially achieve and learn and not what the child already knows. If the test is about what the child already knows, then the smarter kids will simply be placed into a class with older kids and a slightly slowly kid be placed into a class with younger kids. Neither of the situation would be an optimal learning environment for the poor child. Besides, a kid who has higher prior knowledge may simply have been privileged enough to be exposed to more content from schools or home, but it does not mean he/she is ready for even more abstract concepts. Likewise, a kid with lower prior knowledge may simply be deprived from exposure but it does not mean he/she cannot be exposed to more abstract concepts.
Assessment of the child’s learning ability is a much better tool to advise the parents on what is suitable for the child and which level of learning is more appropriate.
The next time you go shopping around for enrichment programs for your kid, don’t fall for “assessments” that tests content knowledge. If they did present the shortfall of your child to you, be sure to ask, when would that knowledge be necessary in a child’s learning journey.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net