Standardized Testing Useful Or Useless
Every year, tons of kids are subjected to standardized tests in schools. Standardized tests, such as New York State Regents exams and others, used in twenty-eight out of fifty states (“Testing, Assessment, and Excellence”) are used to assess a student’s knowledge in particular subjects such as math and reading. All that is learned for an entire year is evaluated in a roughly three hour test on one day. Is this fair? How can everything learned over the span of a year be tested in one day? What happens if a student who received high grades in a subject during school has a bad day and scores low on the standardized test? The score on the test is more important to states than the actual grade received in the class. Every year students who normally excel in a certain subject fail the test because of factors, such as sickness or test anxiety. Standardized test are not a good way to evaluate a child’s proficiency of specific subjects.
Standardized testing is a waste of time. The idea of standardized testing was created to measure the intelligence of students and the quality of schools, and to compare scores with other schools in different states or locations. It seems like a good idea, but the way the idea was put into action is not as effective as it was hoped to be. Standards were lowered in the United States in order to generate higher scores and create the appearance of higher intelligence. In doing so, certain knowledge was compromised in order to focus mainly what would be on the tests. “The mad rush to embrace high-stakes testing says we are now reaping what years of superficial indifference have sown” (“Testing Assessment and Excellence”), meaning we got what we asked for. We have dumbed down our youth to create high test scores. In attempts to be academically superior, the United States is actually lowering their level of intelligence and trying to cover it up with statistics.
In order to receive higher scores on the test, schools tend to teach only what will be on it. In doing so, information that once seemed important to learn is now not required and no longer taught. “Quality developmentally appropriate teaching and learning practices have taken a backseat to the more focused attention on low level skills that can be assessed easily on a standardized multiple-choice test” (Solley). Information is now much more condensed, compared to times before teaching for a standardized test. “ Important skills that schools once taught, such as critical thinking, discussions, and problem solving, are being replaced by low-level, fill-in-the-blank worksheets and drills” (Solley). Students aren’t going to be prepared for their futures if not taught these important skills in schools. If this teaching style is continued, it seems that common sense skills will be lost, and the country will be filled with people who can no longer form or talk about their opinions,but will be considered able to perform math and reading skills at the acceptable elementary level. Is this really what we want?
To go along with the goals of getting high state wide scores on standardized exams, The No Child Left behind Act was created. This was made in 2002 to attempt to bring children to the same academic level (Solley). “Many educators believe that the NCLB Act is actually hurting efforts to improve the quality of public education and to close achievement gaps between students, especially disadvantaged students” (Odland). Instead of having students who struggle and students who excel, everyone is brought to a middle ground, so that the gap between them was made much smaller or closed. This is unfair to both groups of students. The students who were struggling before now have to work even harder to achieve the level that the states deem acceptable. And as for the students who were advanced, they are now put back into regular classes and given the unchallenging standardized material. They are no longer challenged with being taught more advanced material. Everyone is brought to a mediocre level, but if their test scores are high on the low-level exams, they are considered intelligent. Children are being cheated out of knowledge that was given in previous years. Focus is put mainly on the tested material.
Also, standards have only been created in math and reading at elementary level, and the standards in the United States are far lower than those in other countries. “I believe that we should have a national vision, a national set of standards. And if we ever did that, then of course it would make the most sense to have a test which would measure those national standards” (“The Right Stuff”). In the process of preparing students for these tests, the other subjects seem less important. More time is used going over the subjects that the children will be tested on than giving them a well-rounded education in multiple subjects. If the point is to assess education, why not test all the subjects? Or why not just get rid of science and social studies at the elementary level all together. That would provide much more time to prepare for the math and reading exams. Students are missing out on a better education now because of standardized testing. With this type of testing, there is much less time for individualized instruction for each student hat has different learning styles and levels (Odland). Schools now seem to see kids as more of a “product” and less as individuals who learn different ways and at different speeds (“Testing, Assessment, and Excellence”). Everyone is desired to be the same to create consistent test results.
Standardized tests also create too much unnecessary stress in a child’s life. They feel the need to score really high since because their scores are being compared with other students. If intelligence is measured in just one test, it creates large amounts of pressure to do well. Also, standardized tests create inaccurate results in come cases. What if a child suffers from severe test anxiety or some type of illness? Something like that may cause them to perform badly on test day, but they are usually very talented in the subject. If really thought about, it seems almost impossible to rely on one day to tell the story of a year. A student or a school should not be judged based on a test. “Holding Schools or (especially) students accountable almost solely on the basis of student scores on machine-scored tests establishes a ‘whips and chains’ system. When we do that, we’re using tests as a weapon, nothing more” (“Testing, Assessment, and Excellence”).
I think that having a standard test to evaluate students and schools is a good theory but in reality can never truly show education levels. There are far too many uncontrollable factors that would affect a test score to be able to completely trust the results. Students should be able to learn at their own specific levels and their schools should be able to offer them a wide variety of knowledge, not just be given simple tasks year after year. If a child is never challenged with new material and allowed to grow intellectually, the opposite of our nation’s educational goal is achieved. Schools produce students who are proficient in low-level unimportant skills and nothing more.
Odland, Jerry. “NCLB: time to reevaluate its effectiveness.” Childhood Education
83.2 (Winter 2006): 98-B(2). General OneFile. Gale. Broome Community College-SUNY. 12 Feb. 2008.
Solley, Bobbie A. “On Standardized Tesing: an ACEI position paper.” Childhood
Education 84.1 (Fall 2007): 31(7). General OneFile. Gale. Broome Community College-SUNY. 14 Feb. 2008.
“The Right Stuff.” Frontline: Testing Our Schools. 2002. PBS Online. 12 Feb. 2008.
“Testing, Assessment, and Excellence.” Frontline: Testing Our Schools. 2001.
PBS Online. 12 Feb. 2008.