While I was reading the Dyson piece this old memory kept resurfacing. It had nothing to do with my literacy or the different literacies I brought to a classroom setting or something that one of my classmates had brought in but rather a comment my former fourth grade teacher made a couple of years ago. My teacher, who is a close family friend, was at a cocktail party at my parent’s house and we were discussing standardized testing. As a teacher he was aware of the stress associated with standardized test, as a former public school student I was well aware of the disgust students harbor towards standardized testing.
He was telling me that one of the problems with the tests is that the way it assumes a lot of things about the students taking the test – it doesn’t seem to take into account that students might be in distress in their outside life that does not allow them to preform well on the standardized test. An example he gave was that a young student was once prompted to write an essay about a happy time he had had with his family. The student, whose parents were going through a tough divorce at the time, responded with “We don’t.” He ended up receiving a devastating low score on his standardized test, even though he was doing well in the actual classroom setting.
Now I’m not sure how this experience really relates back to literacy and Dyson – but I think it speaks greatly to how the outside world can impact ones literacy and people’s interpretation of it. Literacy does not happen in a vacuum and standardized tests don’t seem to get it.