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Standardized Testing

Do you remember the five minute warnings? Recall that feeling of utter relief when you reached that last “STOP” in your answer booklet. It seems like ancient history for those of us that have graduated high school, but it is still a reality for many unfortunate American students. Some students, including me, quite enjoyed the week of standardized testing.  It was one of the more relaxed weeks. However, has it taken away from the original purpose of education? Isn’t the purpose for students to learn and master as much as possible? With our current system they certainly “learn” a lot. They also forget a lot, and miss many important topics. Certain things can’t be covered because the teacher fears that if the topics on the tests aren’t covered, it will be their job that is at stake. On top of that, even some of the topics that are taught sometimes are not covered for as long, or as in depth as they should have been. The quality and the quantity of teaching time on some subjects is lessened by the teachers’ rush to carry on and touch on all of them so that the students would excel on standardized testing. So students are left to memorize formulas and definitions, sometimes with very little actual understanding because they know that what is important to them is filling in the right bubble. Have we strayed so far from what education was intended to be?

                Initially standardized testing was simply intended to help sort out which schools need to work on what subject area in future years. Unfortunately instead of being a test of the standards set for a school, standardized tests have become the standard within themselves. When the state official chooses what the students should know, he will often expect the students to know everything about the subject matter they are being taught, according to professor emeritus at California University, and author of twenty five books, W.  James Popham. He further explains that “the resultant litanies of committee-chosen content standards tend to resemble curricular wish lists rather than realistic targets.” The natural response of the educators in the school system is to become overwhelmed with all of the matter they feel they should cover, and end up feeling forced to choose what is most important. Popham asserts that this leads to a serious issue in that students end up not having really mastered a lot of the content they were “taught” throughout the school year.

Some may question what, if we get rid of standardized testing, would we do to keep the teacher’s accountable? If the teacher’s make all of the tests themselves, wouldn’t they simply be more centered on what the teacher knows they have taught well? I, unfortunately, cannot refute this argument. However, in order for the system to be reformed, it doesn’t necessary demand that we get rid of standardized testing, but simply change it and make it more beneficial for the students while at the same time testing the teachers.

When I was in High School, I noticed the teachers’ constant emphasizing on what we’d be tested on at the end of each year. What would follow was the realization that most of the stuff I was supposed to have learned, I forgot about because the teacher had such limited time to cover the more difficult content. With standardized testing, the teaching style was based off of quantity of information and not so much quality. So re-learning things the following years was always a necessity, even though we were allegedly to have “mastered” it. Hence why it would be put on the test, correct? Formulas forgotten, and definitions left to be learned over again, standardized testing does no more, in its current state, than to prove how well a student can how much information for a relatively short period of time.

Do I believe that standardized testing should be completely deleted from our educational system? No, I don’t hold that opinion at all. I honestly don’t see any other way to test a teacher’s quality of work without some sort of test being created from an outside source. However I do believe that the current ideas for how standardized tests should be created and given out are very faulty and need reforming. I think that they should be created in such a way as to test the already clearly laid out curriculum. Thus far the tests themselves seem to vaguely lay out the curriculum.  They have become the alpha and omega of a teacher’s duty, and not simply a determiner of the teacher’s work ethic and skill.

Works Cited

Popham, W. Edutopia. The George Lucas Educational Foundation.  Web.

http://www.edutopia.org/f-for-assessment. 4 April 2011.

Stake, Robert. Phi Delta Kappa International. Nov. 1991. Web.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/20404603?seq=1. 4 April 2011.

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Categories: Standardized Testing
  1. ldw
    April 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

    this essay really goes in to great detail on how standardized testing has taken over the public school system i think that would have helped the essay is more statistics that show how dependence on standardized testing has increased over the years.

  2. jda
    May 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    This essay brings out a memory i had in high school with testing. I remember being in my Senior American history class and the first day of class our history teacher laid out what we will learn because of the test we have to take at the end of the year. I really enjoy learning about history, especially American history. I believe knowing our own American history has became a lost art in our school systems. I had a foreign exchange student, from Madrid Spain, live with me my senior year in high school, and he was a sophomore at the time. He knew more about American history than what a lot of my friends did. He told me they started studying about American history in their elementary grades, and along with starting to speak english in 2nd grade. He knew all about the first colonies in America, Revolutionary war, and even the Civil war. I really enjoyed learning about the American Revolutionary war, it was one of my favorite history topics. Once we got to the Revolutionary war topic we literally spent 3 days on the war. Not only was I bummed I didn’t get to find out more facts about the subject but there were some kids in my class that did not have a clue about the Revolutionary war. I knew a little more, but that was because i took an American Revolutionary war class as an elective my Junior year that covered that topic. But once we moved on the the Civil war we ended up spending two months on the topic. I’m not saying at all that the Civil war isn’t as important as the Revolutionary war, because it is, I’m simply just questioning why are we not spending equal amount of time on both subjects? I asked my teacher and he told me, that on the standardized test we have to take at the end of the year covers more about the civil war. I believe because of these tests we are losing way too much information as I agree with the author of this essay. Were losing this part of history just because the state or government says this is what the students should know. The teacher was just worried about losing his job if we did’t know more about the Civil war. Which you cannot blame him for that. But why should we lose that knowledge of one subject because of a test the government sets out for high school student. I’m not saying they should change the tests to revolve around the Revolutionary war, I would just like to see there be a change. Students are losing so much knowledge not only in history, but in all subjects due to these tests. The government should re-think about these tests and come up with some other idea to where teachers can spend equal time on all topics and not have to worry about losing a job because a student did poorly on a test topic, even though the student was still learning about American history or other subjects.

  3. Patrick Davidson
    May 4, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Standardized testing is a big problem in all of America right now and all it is doing is causing much more stress then good right now. The way they have it set up, students are not able to learn what they want to learn or learn how they learn best but must sit there and endure a cruel punishment of grammar and math all day everyday just so they can “pass” the test. This will cause all of the future generations to lose focus in other areas that are vital for American growth such as the sciences field and the Arts field. We need so many other things other than math and reading to be able to function as a whole nation and get everyone back on to their feet and make America great again.

  4. Logan Wilson
    May 4, 2011 at 1:07 am

    I do not believe that a single group of people should shape the goals and curriculum of every public school in America. Standerdized test are not fair because of equality. Author Alfie Kohn states that “one size fits all instructional demands acutally offer the illusion of fairness, setting back the cause of genuine equality”. It is hard on the students to remember all the things needed for the test at the end of the year, and there is less time for class discussion/debate, group work and other activitys in the classroom.

  5. ldw
    May 4, 2011 at 4:28 am

    like the comment above i also had a memory that has left a lasting impression in my brain was the weekend of my first ACT it was in the month of December and snow covered the roads and i almost wrecked trying to get there in time since it had to start at a specific time due to the standardization of it and once the test finally got started it seemed like it would never end due to the useless question that covered subject matter that most of us would never use for the rest of our lives but they still base the success of your future off one event that you have no control over for example i kept a solid 3.5 GPA in high school that i worked hard to keep which proved i knew what i needed in school to succeed but because i did not do well on the ACT i have to take classes in college that dont even count toward my major but are steal required

  6. anonymous
    May 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Standardized testing does bring back memories. Memories that is not that great. My past experience with ACT/SAT was not a forgettable one. The week before we took the test we studied everything that we went over in each class. It was boring, but I knew it was necessary, so we would be prepared when the time came. The morning of the test I got up extra early so I could study all the material we went over so I would be prepared. I never thought that what I was studying would be completely useless. As I looked over the test, I realized that the test we were taking had nothing to do with the material we learned in the class room. So I ask the question, “Is Standardized Testing really needed or do we need to change the curriculum in class?” I believe that the curriculum should be changed, do to the fact that Standardized Testing is a base for higher education. Teachers are given, by the board of education, a set curriculum to teach and it does not synchronize with the ACT/SAT. The ACT/SAT is produced by measured achievements related to high school curricula, however, in some cases that is not true. Like I said before what was not the same material that was on the tests. So, I believe that the curriculum that teachers are given needs to be revised in cooperation with the ACT/SAT, so that students will be able to do better and get higher scores on the test.

  7. IMH
    May 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I agree with the author of this piece. Testing week in my high school was relaxing and very laid back for me. It was probably one of the lest stressful periods in the week. However at times it did feel like the teachers were simply tryig to feed you the information that was just for the test. Because every once in a while you would hear a teacher say “okay now this is going to be on the test so pay attention…” Then you could feel the tension in the air as the test was mentioned and all the students start to worry.

  8. September 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I wanted to share this.. http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/05/k12online-and-south-carolina-virtual.html

    This is about my son.

    Standardized testing is not a joke. It’s a damaging thing to students and teachers alike. There is nothing valid about it. There is no way to measure a child with a bubble test that has been drilled into their brains for MONTHS. Our test (PASS) is being practiced NOW in September!!! The test isn’t until May! Please take a moment and look at the links. We are sick of this and we’re doing something!

    http://grumpyelder-todayimgrumpyabout.blogspot.com/2011/09/letter-from-12-year-old.html

    http://grumpythings.blogspot.com/2011/09/south-carolina-parents-to-protest-high.html?spref=tw

  9. April 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Interesting discussion here from authentic voices. The current situation has likely changed since experiences described here. The author asks an important question about standarization and the role of tests. I like how USC Professor Emeritus Stephen Krashen frames it…No Unnecessary Tests or NUT. This means the right amount of tests; but current reform initiatves mean standardizes testing starts in preschool and will occur several times during the school year. Tests are based on the new common core standards for math and reading. Teachers are evaluated, given salary increases, and hired and fired based on student achievement. In Florida, that data comprises 50% of the evaluation. Imagine how the Spanish teacher or gym teacher will be evaluated. Then there is the student longitudinal database, which maintains data on every public school student in the nation from preschool until first year out of high school. Some data may be shared without parent consent to research org and government agencies. Privacy and security concerns are real.

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