Why Standardized Testing throughout Secondary School should be Stopped

For the younger generation the joy of reading has all but disappeared. When did the young people of today stop liking reading and why you may ask? While I certainly don’t have all the answers I do have a few ideas.

Somewhere between being read bedtime stories and graduating high school, all the fun went out of reading. Reading stopped being a magical escape into mystical lands and started being a required stomping through a land of boredom and misery of assigned reading of “approved” texts suitable for taking standardized exams, so that schools can earn more funding. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

Think back to the books you were required to read in high school. Out of the average of 16-20 books you were required to read, how many of them did you truly enjoy. How many of them could you not put down due to your urgent need to see what would happen next? How many of them changed your life? While I was one of those rare people that made it through high school, and college for that matter, with my love of reading still intact, only one of my top ten favorite books was a school assignment and that one did not reveal itself to me until I was a college senior.

So my question is this – why has no one ever questioned why we make high school students trudge through the same miserably boring reading list year after year when we all hated it at the time and those books really contributed little or nothing to our lives? My response would be tradition and laziness. After all, it would be much harder for teachers to cope with grading thirty five different papers on thirty five different novels than it would be to force the entire class to read The Scarlet Letter. Just because something has been deemed “classic” literature, does that necessarily mean that it’s good and should be required consumption for all people from now until the end of time?

This is yet another symptom of the breakdown in the educational system. Where else can the daily operations and methodology of a business, and yes it is a business, remaining fundamentally unchanged for years and yet still go on as if that is acceptable. The only significant change I’ve seen in the last twenty five years is that both students and teachers care less now than they ever did before. Education has become all about cramming in the suitable information to provide for success on standardized tests. Actually learning anything of use, or helping students develop into well rounded individuals, curious about the world around them has long ago become subjugated to test taking and funding needs.

If kids, parents, and legislators continue on this path education may just become obsolete. Would an educational system for high school students that bent more to their needs and interests be an improvement over the mills of mediocrity we embrace today?