Students groan at the mention of any standardized test. The word “test” alone will provoke a grumble, but when “standardized” is tacked to the front it’s like a school wide moan.
Standardized tests fail to reveal the individuality of students (hence the word “standardized”). They are designed to compare the academic abilities of student classes from one year to the next. It seems, however, that the negative consequences are more prevalent than the positive.
The more interactive lesson plans and activities are frustratingly pushed aside as school systems load more standardized tests on our teachers. The class period is not nearly long enough for teachers to accomplish all that they wish to do.
Instructors must teach the exam curriculum or else their students will suffer when it comes to the state tests. As the site Greatschools mentioned, teachers begin to “teach by the test” without much option to do otherwise.
In terms of students, these assessments cause for additional stress on top of our regular school work. We also lose significant class time in order to block of days to take these tests and have to scramble (especially in terms of the SAT) to prepare for test days.
The tests are also used to determine whether or not a child will pass or fail their grade (called End of Grade tests). If these tests cannot be eradicated, perhaps school systems should use them more as instruments in discovering where a child struggles, rather than using them as a gateway of “pass or fail”.
What would a classroom look like without these tests? Kelley Collins, science teacher here at Leesville, mentioned that with standardized tests “there’s not a lot of room for enrichment or expansion on any topics…The county benchmarks…put us behind because that is not something we’ve had to do in the past.”
Collins mentioned that she is unable to teach the more interesting aspects of many of her topics simply because there isn’t enough time. A classroom without these assessments would allow teachers to delve deeper in the topics that they may otherwise not have time for.
Many organizations ask for tests to be eliminated completely. The website StandardizedTesting mentioned an alternative way to assess students at the end of the year. They proposed that students in Science and Math classes design an experiment and students in English and History classes compose a portfolio.
The teacher would guide them through the process, allowing instructors to pinpoint exactly where each student struggles and students to showcase what they’ve learned throughout the year.
Why do we have these tests if it seems there are so many negative consequences?
Despite what I’ve mentioned, there are advantages to standardized testing. Without them, there would be students in one school system learning at a higher difficulty level than another school system just across the road. Students would have an advantage of learning in one community rather than another, which would cause numerous other problems to ensue.
In recent years there has been a large rise in the number of parents that have opted their children out of the exams. Alexander Russo wrote an article in The Atlantic that discusses the issues of standardized testing. In the article he quoted Jesse Hagopian, teacher from Garfield High, as predicting the coming test season for 2014 as being “the biggest revolt against standardized testing in US history”.
Russo also wrote that a recent press poll revealed that one in four parents were displeased with standardized testing, saying that their child takes too many of these generalized tests.
“I don’t know how many we should have. Should they be tested for every class or just the course, I’m not sure how they decide on that, but I do think they’re a good measure to make sure all schools are teaching what they’re supposed to,” Collins said.
So while I don’t believe standardized tests should be eliminated completely, I do believe that the sheer number of tests we students have to take should be reduced significantly. The tests are important to keeping students across the country all on the same page, however I agree with Ms Collins in that the volume of tests is unnecessary.