Contributed by Seth Moland-Kovash, Palatine, IL
When was the last time you took a standardized state or national or school district-wide test?
The trend in the last couple of decades in education has been toward more standardized tests. They’re often controversial in negotiations between teachers’ unions and school districts, and in elections. Some people think that teachers should be assessed based on their students’ standardized test scores and some think we need many more factors in assessing how teachers are doing and how much they should be paid. There are more standardized tests given today than ever and lots more importance is given to the results.
One reason for this emphasis on standardized tests is a fear that our education system in the United States is not doing the best job that it could in preparing students. Studies are cited about the performance of American students when compared to students from other countries around the world. People argue about why those results are what they are. Standardized testing is one of the reasons often cited for the difference and one of the solutions often given for fixing the problem. Here is one example: in this story The education system of Finland (which is often cited as the best in the world) is also written about as having no standardized testing. One more piece in the argument.
- Do you think there is too much emphasis placed on the results of standardized tests in your school? Too little?
- Do you think teacher’s salaries should be determined (a little, or mostly) by the results that their students get on standardized tests?
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 17, 2013 (First Sunday in Lent)
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
As we begin the season of Lent, Jesus is given a test. We cannot be sure if this was a standardized test that the devil gave to lots of people, or if it was only for Jesus, which seems much more likely. But the results were surely very important. Jesus was not tested on his knowledge of math or reading or basic geography. Jesus was tested on his faithfulness and his trust in God. Because that’s what faithfulness is all about. We sometimes talk about faithfulness and think it means knowing the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe we think it means doing the right things and feeding the poor. Those are all important. But faithfulness is really about trusting God.
Jesus aced his test. He demonstrated trust in God in resisting the devil’s offer of bread, human authority, and doing an amazing trick. Jesus aced his test. This does not mean that we are always going to do the same. We are not always going to have the same kind of trust in God. And the good news of this story is that we do not have to. Jesus trusted God. Jesus resisted the devil. Jesus defeated the devil and all the powers of evil, so we are free. We are free to trust God. We do not HAVE to trust God in order to be safe, we are free to trust God. And, because of Jesus’ faithfulness, even when we do not, we are forgiven and loved by God.
- Jesus had some tools that helped him resist the temptation. What do you think they were? How was Jesus able to resist?
- How can you build your own trust in God?
People do not live on bread alone, but God has given us much to share. Bake bread as a group and share it with a food pantry or shelter, demonstrating that you trust God to provide enough so you can share.
Good and gracious God, we thank you for the faithfulness and trust of Jesus. Help us to trust you more and more each day. Amen.