Recently I was having a conversation with a colleague. His question was… “[in your strength and conditioning program] what do you test on, and how often do you do it?”
At this time of the year, after just finishing MAP tests in our school and district, it got me to thinking about testing in general.
In answer to his initial questions, we test on our four Core Lifts (Bench, Squat, Hang Clean, and Push Press) for anyone that is new to the program. We test on a multi-rep max, and use this conversion chart so we can enter it on their workout card, which calculates their workout percentages while they are in our program.
We also give a battery of tests that we feel provides us with some good information regarding their athletic progress:
- 40-yard dash
- Vertical Leap
- Pro Agility
And their card calculates:
After this initial testing, we do not test on their Core Lifts again … ever… and here is why.
Testing takes time away from what I really want them to do…. train to be better athletes! I am really not overly concerned about what their “maxes” are, other than how that relates to their athletic improvement. Their workout card provides them with information so they can gauge their progress (see Breaking… it’s a good thing) and know what their new “maxes” are…. without retesting.
I am not training members of a powerlifting team, but members of the football, basketball, and volleyball, etc. teams. I want their training to transfer to the court(s) or field(s) of their choice. If it does, then both the athlete and I are happy… if it doesn’t, no matter how strong or how well they tested, then I have failed as a strength coach.
And this is how it relates to testing in the classroom… to MAP or STAAR (insert your state/ district standardized test name here) testing.
I am amazed annually about the amount of time, (instruction time, professional development time), energy (student, teacher, administrator), and angst that is put into the preparation and administration of these tests.
Our teachers administer all kinds of predictive tests in prepping for the MAP test… STAR test, Acuity test, and many also give an EOC exam in their classes. This year they also had to spend time practicing the MAP test because of the new, tech based test. They (teachers and administrators) spend an amazing amount of time dealing with all of this… prepping for all of this… and worrying about all of this… for a test score.
And that is my point… and how it relates to strength and conditioning…
I have to believe that in the long run our students (and teachers and administrators) would be much better off if they could spend ALL of the time they now spend in test prep on actual instruction…. Imaginative, Innovative, Individualized… Instruction.
Instruction that is geared toward learning… learning skills that will transfer and allow them to excel in the “real world” rather than excelling on a standardized test.
Are we interested in creating a legion of good “test takers”… or do we want to send out into the world students that are inquisitive, lifetime learners, problem solvers, and adaptable?
In my strength and conditioning class I am not interested in training members for an Olympic Powerlifting squad, but I want them to be better athletes in their respective sports.
In the classroom I think we should be more concerned about training better, well prepared citizens rather than great test takers.
Just my opinion.
BTW… we do test on the 40, vertical, shuttle, etc. annually… but even then try to be efficient in our administration and condense it down into the shortest amount of time possible as not to lose training time.
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org