Standardized testing is not improving education overall. Although it has made educators more aware of specific targets for students to meet and has made education a little more consistent on a state by state basis, there are many results that are not so attractive due to the emphasis that schools place on standardized tests.
Pressure on Teachers
The pressure dominates teaching for those who instruct math and reading especially. While many other subjects have no accountability, these teachers have constant pressure to create results. This can mean a much greater push in these subjects at earlier ages and less enjoyable classroom activities due to the necessity of teaching curriculum to the test.
Less Love of Learning
Students as a result are much more results oriented as well as the teachers. A frequent comment from high school students when asked to think for themselves and discover their own answers is that they would prefer that the teacher tells them what they need to know so they can memorize it. Without the simple love of learning, students lack the drive to use imagination and to study a subject just because they want to learn more.
No Reflection on the Real World
One of the greatest calamities of standardized testing is that it only rewards success in specific academic areas. These tests do not reflect students’ work ethic or attitude. There are many examples in every school district in which students can ace a standardized test, but are actually poor students. These students may have natural intelligence and be good test takers but may be unpleasant students to have in the classroom. Frequently a student that may have more average scores is actually the better student and will go on to be the more successful college student and eventual employee. Because these standardized tests really only measure how well a student can score on a subject in a prescribed amount of time, it is not a true reflection of a student’s success in higher education, nor the world of work.
Student Burn Out
Because there is such a push in academics, schools are increasingly assigning more homework at younger ages and have high expectations of students at younger ages. Unfortunately many elementary aged students are not emotionally, academically or physically prepared to work at this level. Kindergarteners are known to have an hour of homework at night. This early push often burns children out on homework at a younger age, so by the time they are in junior high or high school, the students are burned out on homework. In actuality this is the age when homework can be a benefit to students. It works as a contradiction to child development.
Less Well-Rounded Students
In the quest for improved test scores high school students often do not have room in their schedules to take a variety of classes to develop sincere interests in what they want to do for their careers. Students are loaded with required courses and schedules bloated with math and science electives. Those same students do not have as many opportunities to take fine arts or vocational classes. Often times these practical classes can be the most beneficial to a student in order to be a well-rounded college student.
Like Spaghetti Thrown at a Wall
School districts in the quest to improve test scores throw money at whatever the latest craze appears to be. It is like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping it sticks only the hope is that whatever the craze is will stick with improved tests scores. Teachers spend hours training in courses with titles that include phrases like “Assessment” and “Unpacking Standards”. How interesting do those courses appear? Trainings are then not about invigorating the classrooms. They are about monotony and theory. Although they may have value, it just doesn’t equate to creating better teachers. It may make teachers better planners, goal setters and assessors, but that does not mean that those same teachers will go back to classroom with tools that will excite their students to love the trigonometry or King Lear.
Although standardized testing has its place and value in 21st century education, it creates a void that may have lasting effects in the years to come. The students that have grown up under the guise of No Child Left Behind do not appear to be any better educated than the students were eight years ago. Standardized testing certainly has its place in modern