Testing itself does not hinder the education process. Ongoing assessments should be made by teachers on a daily basis. There is, however, a politically driven set of tests given in grade schools at the end of each year that do hinder the education process. There is also evidence of damage that they tests cause as a result of their construction, method of delivery, and culturally biased nature.
I am deliberately avoiding use of the name of the political movement that has mandated testing beginning in grade school and continuing throughout high school. Though this act’s intentions seemed good at its implementation, there is much about it that is highly flawed.
First, these government mandated final exams cut into valuable teaching time. If the government wants to mandate nation wide testing, perhaps they should be the ones to schedule time outside educators’ academic year. They also ought to hire their own set of professionals to administer these tests, rather than imposing on a teacher’s already filled schedule.
Another observation I have made about these end of level tests that questions the validity of these tests is that all are required to test on grade level by 2014. This may seem like a reasonable goal. The first major flaw is that this is a politicians goal. How can a politician reasonably set a goal for a system in which he or she has never worked?
The implementation of this politically set goal creates a plethora or problems for students who are of low socio-economic status, students whose primary language is not English, and students who are on an Individual Education Plan due to a disability. The way these tests are written and scored, and the way they often determine funding for a school set these students up to fail.
These tests already have scores that show these students scoring the lowest on end of level testing. Many times school administrators blame these students for causing their school to fail AYP or Adequate Yearly Progress. Is this it fair to blame these kids for a failing a system that has actually failed them? Politicians may argue that these students are given accommodations. The thing that these politicians don’t understand is that these students who are below grade level may have made phenomenal progress over the year, but have not yet closed the gap enough to be right on grade level. Though accommodations may seem that they are making the testing fair for all, these students are not measured according to the progress that they have made. Their peers who do not have these same challenges have no gap to bridge and testing shows progress. Students who come from these less fortunate circumstance are shown no such progress according to these test, even though progress has been made over the course of the year.
Finally, and perhaps the most important point that I can make, governmentally mandated final exams do not measure collaboration between regular education, special education, related services and/or ELL (English Language Learning) services. It does not measure the effectiveness of that collaboration. It does not measure the experiences that these students have as a result of this collaboration.
With the success that comes from collaborative efforts, it surprises me that a better measure of student achievement has not been created. Perhaps it is because politicians did not think to collaborate with educators before they made their decision to put mandates on them. Final Exams may be helpful with a certain level of fixing. Current practices do not aid in the instructional process. I hope this can be a voice to promote change and action by parents, government leaders, and all voters.