How Education Failed Me – Thought 1: Standardized Tests

TW: Slight mentions of being bullied.

Let the thoughts commence!

Instead of parts, I label numbered posts in a series as “thoughts,” as I type ideas as they come to me. Thinking doesn’t happen in any particular order.

One of my #InclusionMeans tweets (link here: https://twitter.com/AdAstraAspie/status/655816335230763008) says that sometimes standardized tests aren’t accurate gauges of an Autistic person’s abilities. How true.

When I was in the American K-12 system, I wasn’t “taught to the test” as much as American youth are today, but I did do poorly on standardized tests, as evidenced by my performance on the TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills) test. This test was replaced by TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) in 2003 and then STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) from around 2011 – 2015.

One of my sayings to myself in middle school was “Toss TAAS out the window.” (as TAAS was pronounced “toss”) One reason I didn’t like it is because around that time, math with letters (i.e. – algebra and pre-algebra) was being introduced  and I had TERRIBLE math teachers (par for the course in rural East Texas, with little exception). I was also being relentlessly bullied by this one kid who made my life a living hell. At one point, he kept making lewd phone calls to a preacher’s wife, leaving threatening messages and saying it was me, prompting a visit by the local sheriff’s deputy. I was terrified and anxious, and after the deputy saw that the geeky little boy wasn’t the culprit, I was left alone by the authorities.

Fast forward to high school: I was still being bullied, but not as much in middle school. I also got bored with most of my classes because:

1.) I was pursuing my own interests (Anime, Manga, Video Games and Computers. Hell, I was teaching myself Japanese at that point, which I am still doing today. More on that later.)
2.) Most of my teachers didn’t care about teaching me anything.

and

3.) I couldn’t make sense of what was important (to standardized testing, as well).

Then came another standardized test: The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). I did poorly (890 out of 1600 points) because my math skills were terrible back then (eventually I found that I didn’t suck at math, but I’m still somewhat slow at it, more on that in another thought). How was I supposed to get in to universities that offered Japanese as a major (the only one in Texas is the University of Texas at Austin) with such a poor score? Here I was teaching myself a very complex language (and succeeding). Was that talent not enough? Most admissions boards probably wouldn’t hear anything of an exception to the rule, all in the name of if I had a high SAT score and if I had been social in after-school activities (I was pursuing my own interests and doing my homework at the time).

In my opinion, standardized tests are crap; poor gauges of true ability.

All of this on top of me not knowing at the time that I am Autistic.

More thoughts to come.

EDIT TO ADD: I fairly whooped the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) not too long ago while I was still in graduate school. I made around 83rd percentile in verbal, fairly poor in math (42nd to 43rd percentile. More on my math ability later) and made 4.5 of 6 on the writing section, which is around 80th percentile (80 percent of others below me).

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