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Bubbling In: The Foundation of American Education

Hands gripped tightly to protect their honor, sweat beading from their foreheads. The anxiety swelling in their stomachs, fear entices them to keep drudging on. Stress eats away at them, worrying about all the threats of what will happen if they fail. They keep going till they reach an obstacle they did not expect, one they cannot surpass. What are they to do? Fill in the letter C. It seems ludicrous to assume that the scenario above is referring to fourth graders, or rather what we have made of them. Standardized testing has sterilized our schools of any learning that will not be covered on the test, causing our educators to be rushed and our students to be stressed. Is this what you want your ten year old son/daughter, brother/sister to be like? Standardized testing needs to be eradicated because it is hindering our ability to provide a quality education.

“Exit exams are one of the few ways to ensure that students have the basic…skills they will need to enter either college or the workforce” (Facts on File).  For those who disagree with my judgment, this will be the position that they take. That this is the only effective way to ensure student success, but standardized testing has many more cons than pros. “Teachers only teach what is on the test” (FairTest).  This is a true statement, but it seems that all the blame is being placed on the teacher. Did anyone ever think to ask the question as to why they do this? “Standardized testing is meant as a way to reprimand teachers,” says Kimberly Sergent, a high school history teacher, “The test would be efficient if it did what it was suppose to and helped the students, but it only serves as a report card for the teachers” (Sergent).

These tests are dictating the curriculum and giving guidelines to what the teachers are allowed to teach, our students are not getting an adequate education.  “No test is good enough to serve as the sole/primary basis for important educational decisions” (FairTest). So then why do we let them? We control what goes on in our schools. We have a voice; we just are not using it because we have been mislead to believe that standardized testing is a good thing. I can say that from personal experience it is not the truth; my standardized test scores have done nothing for me in my college or high school career. What has helped me is the insightful educating of my teachers, the ones who chose to break beyond bounds of standardized testing and really educate us.

There are also claims that these tests “put students on an equal level” (Facts on File).  Education Bug disputes this claim, showing evidence of the inequalities. It states that “students with a parent who has a bachelor’s degree will score 18-20 pts higher than the mean; students with parents who have a graduate degree will score 54-58 pts higher than the mean; while students with parents who have an associate degree or lower will score below the mean” (EducationBug.org).  Proof that student’s results can be affected by their parent’s accomplishment level. How is this an equal playing field?

We claim, as America, that we are the greatest nation and the one with the most influence and power. Why is it then that we are dead last when it comes to education? “The U.S is the only economically advanced nation to rely heavily on multiple-choice tests. Other nations use performance-based assessment” (FairTest). If we are truly so great then why are we putting our students behind the rest. We are letting them slip right through the cracks. We are throwing away knowledge and replacing it with facts, turning students with eager minds into breathing encyclopedias.

So what can we do to change this? Like I said we must remove standardized testing completely and replace it with a better form of evaluation. One form that seems prominent and efficient in other countries is the performance –based assessment. We could assemble a panel that would give an unbiased critique of the student’s performance, thus deciding whether they have truly been successful or not.  This would be better because like teacher Kimberly Sergent pointed out, “Some are good test takers and some are not” (Sergent).  By doing this, we can make education more than just filling in the correct circle.

Works Cited

Education Bug. “Standardized Testing Statistics” www.educationbug.org2007. Web. 4 April 2011

Facts on File. “Standardized High: School Exit Exams” Issues and Controversies. www.2facts.comOct. 2009. Web. 4 April 2011

FairTest. “How Standardized testing Damages Education” www.FairTest.orgAug. 2007. Web. 4 April 2011

Sergent, Kimberly. Personal Interview. 5 April 2011

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Categories: Standardized Testing
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