The Testing Camera

Peter H. Reynolds, creativity advocate and best-selling author and illustrator, and co-founder of FableVision Learning, has created a new animated short called The Testing Camera — a whimsical poke at high-stakes, standardized testing and a reminder that real assessment is as easy, and — at the same time — as challenging as getting to really know the gifts and talents of every child.

(If you don't have access to YouTube, you can also view the film on Vimeo.)

“We’ve gone through a very test-centric decade which, in my opinion, has consumed a lot of time, energy, and resources," Reynolds shares. “Many teachers have had to adhere to new mandates and measures that require a ‘teach to the test’ approach. Public schools redirected funding for art, music, theater, libraries, field trips, and more. It's a discouraging picture for those trying to reach all children in creative, engaging ways.”

Reynolds, who is known for his books encouraging creativity, The Dot, Ish, Sky Color and The North Star among many others, penned this whimsical and poignant story about a young girl named Daisy who, dismayed at her art class being canceled, nervously faces her turn with the "Testing Camera." This huge apparatus snaps at her with a few blinding flashes of light. Weeks later, her father’s reaction to the test results surprises Daisy in a most wonderful way.

“This is my gift to educators to remind them to follow their instincts and remember why they got into teaching in the first place: to see the potential in every child, to nurture those emerging gifts and talents, and to change lives,” Reynolds shared.

The film was produced by FableVision, the transmedia studio in Boston founded by Peter and his twin brother, Paul Reynolds, author of Going Places and the Sydney & Simon series. The Testing Camera was directed by John Lechner with music by Tony Lechner, and animated by a team of young animators interning at FableVision for the summer. Broadway actor Chester Gregory lends his voice to the project.

The film is being released on the web free of charge by FableVision Learning. Educators, learning communities, parents and caregivers are urged to share The Testing Camera to begin or enhance constructive conversations on how to better support authentic learning in the classroom and beyond.

A free companion poster by Peter H. Reynolds: “I AM NOT THE TEST SCORE, I AM NOT DATA, I AM NOT THE LABELS STUCK ON BY OTHERS”

Peter adds, “We need to innovate our assessments of how kids are doing, and, at the same time, to reevaluate what our priorities are. Priorities drive policy and policies drive funding. My hope is that our film will be part of the change. The testing industry ballooned to 2.5 billion in 2012, while roughly 1.2 million students a year still never get their high school diploma. And even those who do make it past the testing camera often carry the burden of a distorted image about their own potential for decades to come. From my perspective, making schools wonderful places for kids — and for teachers — will help move things forward.”

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