What comes to mind when you hear the word, testing?
Do you think of waxed floors, metal desks, and a teacher with a stern face, walking around, proctoring the atmosphere?
Or, do you think of those three minuscule minutes you have left–minutes posted so effortlessly by your teacher on the blackboard or white board (depending on how young you are), when you know that you still have a zillion questions to answer?
Hmmm…testing, testing, 1, 2, 3.
Testing is a hot topic in education, today. It seems that it always has been and it always will be. But, I want to put a spin on this topic as it relates to you, the Believer, who feels like you are always taking a test, preparing for a test, or just completing a test.
I want to speak to you, the Believer, who feels like things are just not “letting up.” You feel like as soon as you experience a “high” in your life, the low is not too far behind.
I want to take this time to have a conversation with you about the beauty of something much deeper than testing and that is assessment.
The Difference between Testing and Assessment
You see a test is simply an instrument given to measure skills, knowledge, development, and even aptitudes. But, assessment is a process for gathering information to make decisions.
When you are assessing a child, you are actually placing the child under a microsope, looking at how the child reacts to certain situations, how the child processes information, and even how the child applies what he or she knows in real-life circumstances.
During the assessment process, you take anecdotal notes and record the child’s actions in a systematic fashion. You may file those notes in folder labeled with the child’s name to be analyzed at a later date or you may keep samples or products of the child’s work in a portfolio to serve as official documentation of what that child can or cannot do.
Ultimately, the purpose of the assessment is to provide the data you need to instruct and guide the child in the best possible way. In other words, your goal is to create a learning environment that is so customized that the child has no choice but to thrive and discover knowledge.
The assessment may reveal some things about the child that are surprising. For instance, you may have certain expectations of the child’s abilities based upon typical growth and development charts or some set of curricular standards; but, while assessing the child, you find out that the child is nowhere near “the level” that you had assumed the child would be.
Or perhaps, the assessment reveals something that you already knew–something quite obvious: the child is much more advanced than “the level” indicated on the chart or by the “standards.” Either way, the data you obtain dictates how you set the stage for learning as the child’s facilitator.
Viewing God as the Facilitator of Your Learning Experience
In the same way, you are being assessed by God.
Let me help you imagine this.
Although we know that God knows us inside and out, try to imagine him as a regular classroom teacher. As that regular classroom teacher, he has a clipboard with a list of all of the “standards” that he is looking for you to meet or exceed. So, he is constantly creating activity plans and lessons plans that give you the time, space, and materials conducive to learning certain skills.
He sets up an environment that allows you to develop mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, financially—all the ways in which you need to mature. All the while, he is collecting in-depth information about you and determining how he might modify instruction so that he speaks to you in the way that causes you to “get it.”
Sometimes, he doesn’t set up anything, but he watches you in your own naturalistic environment. He notes things about your daily routine, your prioritized activities, your social interactions, and your mindset.
Seemingly, he recognizes your areas of strength as well as the areas that need improvement.
The great thing is that he doesn’t use the data he collects against you, but he uses it to enhance your growth and development—to take you from where you are to where you need to be.
If you need more practice, you get more practice. But, if you have demonstrated proficiency or mastery in a particular area, he ensures that you move on to the next meaningful learning experience.
Embracing Test-Taking Time
At some point, what you have learned from God by God and through God must be determined. Before you are “approved” to move on to the next level of learning, you must pass the test.
Given the Ivy League education you have received from God Himself, it is important to find out not only how much you know, but how much you will apply.
So, when you are faced with trials and tribulations, do you “count it all joy” or do you run and hide or gripe and complain?
When you are hit below the belt with an unexpected betrayal or rejection, do you slander the person or do you pray for the one who has despitefully used you.
When disease or famine strike, do you weep uncontrollably, fall into depression or do you exercise your mustard-seed faith and speak to the situation and cast it into the sea?
You see, when it is time to take the test, you can either showcase your growth and development or you can choose the defeated attitude towards testing and fail to accentuate your true ability.
Your performance will determine God’s instructional method. He already knows what you are capable of. He just has to provide the right circumstances that cause you to grow into it and know it for yourself.
Changing Your Perspective
He wants you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. He wants you to live an abundant life. He wants you to understand that you must always be postured to learn, process, and apply over and over again until the test is so easy that He can finally check-off that standard on his clipboard and MOVE you to the next.
So, as you go through the assessment cycle, be clear about what it REALLY is. Know that once you master a skill, not only will you pass the test, but then and only then will you finally be equipped to help others.
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Peace and Blessings,