Roots & Shoots Intern, Dominique R., discusses service learning as an alternative to testing
Too Many Tests
If you are, or have recently been, a student in the United States of America, your education most likely revolves around endless waves of test-prep and test-taking. A recent study released by the Council of the Great City Schools announced that students spend up to 25 hours per year on standardized tests alone. That is the equivalent of 112 tests between Pre-K and 12th grade, confirming that the influx of mandated tests during your American education is not just your imagination.
Change on the Horizon
Soon the age of excessive testing will be only a distant memory. On October 24th, President Barack Obama released a statement video instructing the Education Department to limit test-taking to only 2% of classroom time. The White House hopes that this will lead to the elimination of redundant tests and make room for students to spend more time learning in a context outside of test preparation.
Opportunity for Service Learning
Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program encourages youth-led activism and service learning as a mechanism for young people to engage with their surroundings and take action for a more peaceful and sustainable world. In an environment where testing dominates the classroom, the Roots & Shoots Formula and Toolkit inspires students to take an active role in their own education by fostering a community of engagement, inquiry, conviction, and celebration.
To make the most of The White House testing reform, students must….
- Be motivated to take an genuine interest in the world around them. Check out the
Roots & Shoots Mapping Activity to learn more about building community awareness.
- Have the opportunity to address community and real world issues. The
Roots & Shoots Project Page is a great resource to help you get started on making an impact of your own.
- Gain access to the tools students need to become confident and efficient leaders. Take a peek at the
Roots & Shoots Toolkit, which includes resources designed to help students develop into effect leaders.
As The Council of Great City Schools study said, “there’s no evidence that adding test time improves academic performance.” However, several studies have shown that service learning is “one of the most effective strategies for improving student engagement and, thereby, academic learning.” To encourage service learning is to make the most out of the opportunity at hand.