Do we really want a nation filled with mediocre, average, run-of-the-mill people? That is the question that should be asked. The only thing that standardized testing, such as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, really aims at is getting every single student to a certain level. While there is a definite possibility that maybe, just maybe, some lower-achieving students will pass this test and be at the level that the state desires, standardized tests most certainly do not encourage high-achieving students to do their personal best. Instead, it forces teachers and administrators to focus only on the students that are currently failing the test. This severely hinders the teaching of ideas and concepts that are too advanced for these tests to higher level students.
For example, my five-year-old nephew is currently in kindergarten. During his very first week in a public school, all kindergartners were given a preliminary test to determine the depth of their knowledge. My nephew passed all sections of this standardized test with flying colors unlike many other students in his class. This achievement should be praised and the student, my nephew, should be encouraged. He should be given work that teaches him new concepts and surpasses what he already knew the very first week of kindergarten. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Seven months later, the kindergarteners at his school are still being taught the objectives they need to master in order to pass the test they were given at the beginning of the year. My nephew is still being taught what he already knew. This means that seven months of his valuable education have been a complete waste.
These kindergartners were tested again at the mid-point of the school year and, surprise, the average test score improved. This would be great but students like my nephew have not learned anything new. They have not been challenged and encouraged to further their education. Instead, this standardized test achieved its goal: a class full of students all at the average level. Only in the first year of their education, students are being held back.
I do understand that this example was of kindergartners, but the concept still applies in secondary education. I am actually a high school student and I have received “commended performance” on most TAKS tests that I have taken since third grade. I am not the only student at my school to have done so and I am most certainly not the only student in Texas to excel at this test. It is very frustrating for me, personally, to sit in my desk every day and work on worksheets and activities aimed to help pass the TAKS test. Instead of helping me learn everything that I can, the teachers are obligated to teach the students in my class how to pass a test that they don’t even care about.
Thanks to standardized testing, I am an average student. Where will that get me in college, in my career? How will an average education help me if I decide to work in Japan? The answer is, it won’t. I am simply not capable of competing with students in other nations because of my mediocre education. Years of my life have been a waste as far as my education is concerned. Standardized testing throughout secondary school must be stopped, or at the very least reformed, if students from America ever wish to compete with students from other nations. Standardized testing must be stopped so that students like me won’t waste away their primary and secondary school years to become average students.