Standardized testing is not an accurate way of discovering what students are learning because the students themselves are not standardized’. The only thing objective about the tests students are taking is the grading, when a machine does it. Humans are not machines, and therefore are subject to moods and prejudices that have little to do with true education.
Start with the screening tests, used to determine a child’s readiness for school, but are slanted toward developmentally inappropriate primary schooling. These are an attempt sort out the students by academic potential so they can be placed in the right’ classes.
Other tests are supposed to screen students for disabilities. The problem with those tests is that they treat students like they have deficits to be corrected, instead of having individual differences and strengths to build upon and enhance, while helping them with the areas of education where they have problems.
Standardized tests do not yield helpful information about a student’s achievement because they do not measure thought processes, comprehension, creativity and reasoning skills. Multiple choice tests do not measure the ability to read, write, understand text, and understand science or social science concepts. Student’s thinking skills or ability to apply reasoning to real-world tasks and information. Most tests are too narrow and filled with isolated facts that aren’t tied in with any other facts in the same test. How are students to understand the significance of historical events if they don’t get the entire picture of history presented to them?
Alfie Kohn, who wrote the book The Case Against Standardized Testing; Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools’, explains the harm inherent in a test-driven curriculum. He offers suggestions on ways teachers, parents and students can make education better by fighting the test-obsessed school boards and politicians that seek media attention over their ideas of education, which are an exercise in ignorance by the corrupt.
Is test-taking ability really important to a students future or are their intelligence and practical abilities more important in the long run? Do we in the working world take standardized tests as part of our employment? Would subjective, standardized tests, filled with totally unrelated bits of information improve our job performance and show our ability to function in the workplace? How many people in the working world would tolerate being tested’ regularly with these tests? The obvious answer to the last question is that most working people would seek other jobs rather than be tested regularly on irrelevant, disconnected facts just to keep their jobs.
So why should our children be subjected to such testing, primarily so that schools can collect more money to spend on bureaucracy? All the test taking in the world won’t make children smarter and more capable to go out into the working world with skills and knowledge that prepare them.
When a thirteen-year-old student understands that schools see students as scores’ and sees students that don’t do well as liabilities. He suggested a more relaxed preparation and testing schedule. The tests are used to determine whether students can advance to the next grade, without any regard to their academic education and standing.
The tests kill creativity and individuality, as it destroys the teacher’s freedom to maximize the student’s strengths. Good evaluation of student abilities goes by the wayside because teachers are kept scrambling to ensure their classes get good scores on the tests. This happens because of the threats, normally good teachers live under, of losing their jobs if the students don’t perform well on the tests. And people wonder why many good teachers seek jobs elsewhere. Others stay, trying to incorporate real education of their students with the mandated testing.
Finally, the facts that students don’t all learn the same way, or at the same rate. Some are visual learners, some learn by doing, some learn by listening, and others learn by doing. They aren’t machines that can be programmed to all do the same things, the same way every time. How about we have less testing for our students? Let’s make music a required course again so students can not only learn music, but have the advantage of being able to learn math easier. Studies decades ago proved that music education improved math scores. While sports programs do teach teamwork, they don’t improve reading, writing, and mathematics scores. They also are little help with critical thinking and creative skills. Don’t cut the sports training, by any means, because they do give students needed exercise, but don’t let the sports programs take precedence over other skills and educational needs that will stand them in good stead in the working world. After all, it is one thing to wrestle someone and a completely different situation to wrestle problems of business, budgeting, and paying bills later in life.
Because of the standardized testing mandates teachers find themselves merely teaching to the test instead of teaching students. After a very short period in school children know how to take tests and don’t need the extra work. However, when the tests are used to determine funding for the schools and moving up through the grades all kids are doing is learning the answers to the tests so they can give a good showing to those demanding the tests. Critical and creative thinking are left in the dust of unused libraries that students have no time to visit because they are too busy studying the material they have to get right on those stupid tests! Art, music, mathematics, English, creative writing, computer classes, and all the other subjects they should be studying and learning are gathering dust because of the tests. Nothing is being learned but what answers to give on the tests, and that is what has made a shambles of our education system. It has become an indoctrination system instead.
More and more parents are trying to opt for private, parochial, and home schooling to ensure their children have a chance in the world. And Congress wonders why. Education used to be an honored profession and preparation for life after school and growing up. Now it is just a series of disjointed tests that mean nothing to the students but tedium. We need to wake Congress out of their stupor and teach them a few lessons in what really works, and it isn’t what we’ve had foisted off on us now!