Reconciling Differences between Standardized Test Scores and School Grades

I never really understood the relevance of standardized tests. I feel that they hinder the creativity of the teachers. In the state of Virginia, we have the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. These tests are given at the end of the year for each of a student’s core classes; English, Math, Science, and Social Studies throughout the student’s high school career. The lessons are intended to prepare the students to pass the SOLs. Here’s how ineffective I felt that the methods were. I vaguely remember anything from my ninth through eleventh grade years. All I remember is that we flew through material so quickly that we barely had time to write notes in class. After the SOL test was over, I forgot everything I had learned in that course and basically was a blank slate from then until the next year.

I thought we already had a standardized way of grading to ensure that we were learning what we were supposed to learn, isn’t that was a Grade Point Average is supposed to determine? I feel that teachers are in such a rush to learn all the material for these standardized tests, that they do not teach anything to the students. They have a set number of objectives for the week and they have to get this information taught in order to ensure that the criteria is met. My opinion is that the best teachers don’t even have to talk in order to facilitate learning. There should be an engagement for students to ask questions and get their thoughts heard. I feel that with so many strict deadlines and requirements with the SOLs that this engagement piece is lost. In my opinion, that’s why students don’t retain information and we see kids on Jay Leno’s “Jay Walk” who don’t even know who the 3rd President of the United States was.

There is so much pressure on the students also, they have to take 3-4 tests every year and pass them in order to move on to the next grade level, even if they are passing the class, if they fail the SOL, they can’t move on to the next grade. I feel that if there is a standardized test, it should be one big test at the end of the senior year and it should prepare the students to take the SAT or something of that sort. Something to motivate them to continue with their education and boost their SAT scores at the same time.