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Standardized Testing

As a teacher, you have to teach and follow a certain curriculum.  You have to cover certain areas of subjects that your students “must” know.  What is the curriculum based off of?  The standardized test.  Why “must” students know these subjects?  The standardized test.  Everything that a teacher has to teach and that a student has to know is based off of the standardized test, which each school must give in order to determine how well the school is executing their goal.  Schools should not be based off of standardized testing because these tests limit the teachers’ ability to teach and do not conform to students with learning disabilities or other distractions.

Standardized tests limit the teachers’ ability to teach because they have to teach to the test.  Teachers must teach to the test so that the students are ready to take the test and receive good scores, which therefore makes the school look better.  Teachers have no extra room in their curriculum to teach things that are not on the test such as, creativity, art skills, life lessons etc.  Before the standardized tests were required, teachers valued teaching students life lessons and creative skills.  However, modern-day teachers’ values are swallowed up by the appetite of standardized tests.  Monty Neal, critic of standardized testing and executive director of FairTest National Center for Fair & Open Testing, states that, “What people forget is that a test score is just an estimate. And the error rate on most tests is pretty sizeable. Also keep in mind that curiosity, creativity, and perseverance aren’t measured. Writing on tests is pretty formulaic. I know published authors with PhD’s who’ve failed writing tests for teachers.”  To read further of Neal’s critique of standardized testing, visit http://school.familyeducation.com/college-tests/educational-testing/38358.html?page=2&detoured=1#ixzz1IgvBI63A. The result of standardized testing is a lack of core values and other crucial, creative knowledge being taught by teachers.  Is this kind of “teaching to the test” method the best kind of method that our students should be learning?  I think not.

Standardized tests reveal false results for schools because not all students are going to be good at taking tests.  Some students have learning disabilities that inhibit their ability to perform well on these standardized tests.  Other students might have other distracting issues that keep them from doing well on standardized tests.  For example, a child whose family cannot afford to eat nutritiously,will most likely not perform as well on a standardized test than a child who ate a filling breakfast the morning of the test.  Is this fair to the child who cannot get enough to eat?  No.  Because of the inability to be fair to all students, standardized tests should not be the only indicator of how proficiently students are learning.

Many experts are against the use of standardized testing but, there are also experts that are for the use of standardized testing.  Paul Reville, a Lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Chairman of the Massachusetts Education Reform Review Commission, was interviewed and asked about whether parents should be cautious about standardized tests being based on such a large error.  Reville replies, “My reaction to that is to ask, because someone trips and falls on the way to the grocery store, should we stop going to the grocery store? People do need to be cautious, but we do need to keep testing.” To read more of Reville’s interview, visit http://school.familyeducation.com/college-tests/educationaltesting/38358.html?page=1&detoured=1#ixzz1IgvOrOL7.Reville believes that just because standardized tests have a large error, we still need to keep them in our school systems.  Another expert for standardized testing is Kelly Rapp, M.S.Ed., Center for Evaluation and Education Policy: Indiana University, believes that, “Standardized tests have such a large error because they’re not administered properly and they are the best method that we have right now.”  To read Rapp’s presentation, visit http://www.inpathways.net/rapp.pdf.Yet, Rapp never explains why standardized testing is the best method that we have right now.  I believe that we need an alternative to standardized testing.

Experts are voicing their opinion on some alternatives to standardized testing as well.  Bob Peterson and Monty Neal, co-authors of “Alternatives to Standardized Testing,” offer a solution to standardized testing known as, “portfolio-based assessment,” which can be explained further by visiting, http://www.rethinkingschools.org/restrict.asp?path=archive/13_03/assess.shtml.  Peterson and Neill explain how each student will have a portfolio that shows all of their work for the school year.  Then, the portfolios are examined by other teachers and school administrators, who evaluate if each student has improved based on his or her needs.  All the personnel who are reviewing the portfolios have to come to a mutual agreement on if each portfolio shows improvement.I think that Peterson and Neal’s alternative solution to standardized testing is great.  This is a much more productive way to evaluate schools without the cost or the restraints on teachers, that standardized testing creates.

Standardized testing needs to be changed.  The tests result in an array of problems including, limiting the freedom of teachers’ teaching abilities and not adapting to all kinds of students’ needs.  Something needs to be done now before our future leaders of America end up learning only what is on the test, instead of what is in the real world.  Maybe Peterson and Neal’s “portfolio” solution could take the place of standardized testing.  We need to continue to advise more alternatives to this hindering method of standardized testing.

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