Today, we face an ever looming issue; how do we accurately assess educational progress, but not detract from the learning experience? The age old method for measuring students’ academic abilities has always been standardized testing. However, standardized testing only proves education is lacking, revealing generally poor performance across the board. Standardized testing undermines the education process with too much focus on assessment, detracting from studentcentered development and deeper learning experiences. Standardized testing only benefits administrative, political, and financial purposes instead of education.
For the sake of academic development, we need to find an alternative for assessing student performance that does not hinder the learning process and we need to embrace teaching methods that engage students to become more creative and think critically. Annual testing has seen a drastic shift over the years, from requiring schools to provide evidence that students were learning to a greater focus on student performance. Unrealistic expectations have been placed on students, demanding an ever-growing academic need, but education has not improved to the same degree. Most states have long realized that the goals set by NCLB [No Child Left Behind, an education act enacted in 1965 designed to compensate for disadvantages in learning opportunities] – such as 100% proficiency in reading and math by 2014 – could not be achieved” and “In 2013, the U. S. Department of Education wisely began to allow states to opt out of meeting this unattainable requirement” (Dianis 37). Many people are beginning to open their eyes to the many flaws of standardized testing and how it hinders the advancement of education.
Thomas Armstrong, from the American Institute For Human and Learning Development, makes a compelling argument about the reasons why standardized tests are worthless. He points out fifteen issues with standardized tests and the negative impact they have on education. Armstrong remarks, “The National Resolution on High Stakes Testing, which calls on government officials to reduce standardized testing in our schools, has been endorsed by hundreds of organizations, and over 13,000 individuals.
And yet, in spite of all this, standardized testing … [is being promoted] in tens of thousands of classrooms around the country. The author views standardized testing as a flawed system that has does not accurately portray “real world” working conditions and advocates it to be dropped in favor of more open-ended learning (Armstrong). According to Armstrong, students go to any lengths to ensure their success on these types of tests as they may greatly affect their future, going as far as cheating and/or taking performance enhancing drugs. Teachers also feel pressured to deliver an overall acceptable range of test scores from their students as it may be impactful to their salary and job security.
Too much emphasis on these test scores has also led teachers to structure their classes around teaching for the test (Armstrong). Standardized testing is flawed because there is too much emphasis that test scores are supposed to be a strong reflection of a student’s aptitude. Standardized testing is not much of a learning experience because there is not any feedback provided on improve performance with students and teachers not seeing test results until months later. Creativity is also overlooked with standardized testing as the machine, which grades these tests only looks for the correct answers.
These type of tests do not take diversity into account, but instead treats individuals identically. Armstrong explains, “If you don’t have the money, and your school is in a low socioeconomic area that gets less funding than rich suburban schools, then you’re not getting the same preparation for the test as those at the higher socio-economic levels do” (Armstrong? ). Standardized testing is a relic of the past that plagues the future development of education and disregards different backgrounds of its test takers.
Judith Brown Dianis, Codirector of the Advancement Project, Washington, D. C. , John H. Jackson, the president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Pedro Noguera, the Peter L. Agnew professor of education at New York University, New York City, New York, oppose high-stakes testing, asking the question, “why defend a policy that has proven generally ineffective in advancing the educational interests of children of color and disadvantaged children? ” (35). Students of color and those who attend underfunded schools are subjected to over testing.
Annual assessments only revealing poor academic results, which can be linked to a lack of tools and resources necessary for education development. The authors remark, “Too often, the data produced by standardized tests are not made available to teachers until after the school year, making it impossible to use the information to address the student’s needs” (Dianis 37). Because of the lack of evidence that standardized testing improves learning, parents are opting their children out of annual assessments.
Another major issue with standardized testing is they are a terrible representation of working in the “real world. ” The environment these tests are conducted in are artificial because they are timed, they disallow any interactions with peers, and they do not allow any referential material to be used. Too many restrictions and/or test anxiety can have adverse effects on the students taking them and this stress can get in the way of “higher-order thinking processes that are necessary to respond correctly to the standardized test questions” (Armstrong).
Standardized testing is a flawed concept that does not do what it was intended for in the first place, prepare students for the work field. Too much focus on standardized testing overlooks potential knowledge students may have. Some students have an innate ability to memorize facts, but may lack “fundamental principles that lack that [require] a deeper comprehension. ” Armstrong presents an example of this by saying, “A group of Harvard graduates were asked why it is colder in the winter and warmer in the summer.
Most of them got the question wrong” (Armstrong? ). For some students, standardized tests are dehumanizing and may discount a student’s potential strengths that they are capable of demonstrating through other means. Standardized testing omits different characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses o human psyche and instead favors numerical values. Administrative, political, and financial purposes benefit from standardized testing, while educational interest is overlooked. The companies that develop these tests make a fortune with profits in the billions.
Politicians get much better poll results by promising better test results. Administrators receive “funding and avoid harsh penalties by boosting test scores” (Armstrong). The reality is everyone else benefits while education is restricted and the potential of students is hindered. Standardized testing creates a dichotomy of students being categorized as either “winners or “losers. ” Those who score below expectations suffer a loss of self-esteem and may have their overall performance affected negatively as they continue on later in life.
While those who score above expectations may feel under a lot of pressure to satisfy higher expectations at the cost of self-interest, ethical principles, aesthetic feelings, spiritual aspirations, compassion, creativity and/or commitment to life (Armstrong). High-stakes being placed on standardized testing only creates tension and can have an adverse effect on the performance of test-takers. A study conducted in the 2014-2015 school year across sixtysix urban districts, ranging from pre-kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade showed an overwhelming amount of standardized testing being administered.
On average, “a typical student takes 112 mandated standardized tests between pre-kindergarten classes and 12th grade, a new Council of the Great City Schools study found” (Layton). Comparatively, most countries that outperform the United States on international exams on average only test students three times during their school careers (Layton). Drastic measures are being taken to cut down over testing with president Obama becoming involved on the issue and voicing his concerns.
President Obama, in a video posted to Facebook by the White House, pledges to take steps to reduce over testing. In his speech, Obama says, “moderation, smart, strategic tests can help us measure our kids’ progress in school, and it can help them learn” (Layton? ). Obama continues on saying, “But I also hear from parents who, rightly, worry about too much testing, and from teachers who feel so much pressure to teach to a test that it takes the joy out of teaching and learning, both for them and for the students. I want to fix that” (Layton? ).