The Horror Behind Standardized Testing.
“Teaching the test” in schools comes with disadvantages; it makes school boring for the students’; it singles students out and changes the environment in the classroom. Like President Barack Obama stated, “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and it’s not going to make education interesting”. With this said, if schools switched up their curriculum by teaching the fundamentals of each subject rather than teaching the test, students would learn better and become more successful. The focus on these tests has changed the way of education over the past 20 years.
So what is the reason for all the focus on standardized testing? You can blame it on No Child Left Behind. In 2002, NCLB was established to test grades 2-12 on math, science and reading. Schools that don’t pass the qualifications of testing are likely to lose federal funding. Without Federal funding, schools become less developed and don’t create a quality working environment for students. This is a major reason why standardized testing is such a big deal in the United States. Schools have transitioned into a competition among each other state wide. They compete to prove their school is the best. In my high school, when the time came around to taking these standardized test, our teacher would throw us pizza parties, bring snacks, take us outside and give us freedom we usually wouldn’t have just so that we would focus on doing the best we could on the test. For one whole week, the time it took to take the test, our course curriculum was shoved in the closet and locked away.
Because standardized tests are cost efficient and results come back quick, schools assume this is the best way to prove how well their students’ progress. Since the results of the test fall back on the teachers and their pay, students would benefit more if the teachers would teach the curriculum rather than spending all year teaching what subjects are covered on these tests. The fact that every student is given the same opportunity in the classroom is effective, but the student’s home life affects their abilities at school. A study in 1992 by the National Assessment of Educational Progress proved that the number of parents living at home, parents’ educational background, type of community the student is from and the poverty rate accounted for 89% of the differences in state test scores (Kohn). This means that students coming from low income families and minority group backgrounds are more likely to be placed in remedial classes and retained in grade which is unnecessary (Fairtest). This is a missed concept of standardized testing. No child is to be left behind, yet these factors play a major role in where that student will be placed in next years class.
Some ways to steer the focus away from standardized testing is to convert to performance based assessments. The United States is one of the only countries to use multiple choice tests to assess our students (Fairtest). Other nations evaluate their students by performing activities, writing essays and doing projects. This will provide answers as to how the student came up with the solution and the techniques to writing which are needed in most careers. By evaluating the students’ problem solving abilities and grammar etiquette, this alone will boost the testing scores and improve the school. Personally, I would much rather be tested on problem solving than reciting math problems and vocabulary.
While the idea of standardized testing sounds good on paper, at work it creates problems. Every child must be given the same oppurtunity, yet they aren’t. Our legislators need to re-think NCLB by either extending it past 2012 or transitioning to performance based assesments. This way, teachers will finally educate students in subjects needed for better experiences in college and careers rather than focusing on getting the best scores on the test.
Anderson, Stacy. “Obama Says Too Much Testing Makes Education Boring.” Online posting. The Associated Press. 28 Mar. 2011. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gdJGOtFU8GswdWeK5Ygmb_9jzebg?docId=d0a5297218fd4c5fbb2993c5849e7a4d>.
Fairtest. “How Standardized Testing Damages Education.” Fairtest: The National Center For Fair and Open Testing. Fact Sheets, 20 Aug. 2007. Web. 5 Apr. 2011. <http://fairtest.org/facts/howharm.htm>.
GreatSchools Staff. “Whats so Bad about Teaching to the Test?” Www.greatschools.org. Web. 5 Apr. 2011. <http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/400-teaching-to-the-test.gs?page=5>.
Kohn, Alfie. “Standardized Testing and Its Victims.” Www.Alfiekohn.org. 27 Sept. 2000. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/staiv.htm>.