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Informative Essay: The Use Of Standardized Testing In Schools

A highly debated topic over the last decade has been about the use of standardized testing. Some people feel like standardized testing is a good way to measure a student’s learning, and teaching ability of teachers. There are two acts passed by congress that requires standardized testing, but both have flaws. Standardized testing does give data and numbers to a student’s progress, and is very accurate when calculating these numbers as well. The question people have to consider is if standardized testing is really best for the kids. It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the kids. Standardized testing is very expensive, and not worth it.

There are different ways to put what the kids learned that year into numbers like standardized testing does. Some schools have more resources than others to teach, so some schools might have better test averages than other schools because of unequal funding among schools. There are a lot of flaws in standardized testing because it puts unnecessary pressure on kids, it’s not worth the cost, there are different ways to get the same results from standardized testing, and unequal distribution of funding could hurt a school’s overall testing scores making it an inaccurate of scores as other schools.

The very first act passed by congress to improve education is the “Elementary and Secondary Education act”. It was first passed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, and it was made to give aid, and money to these schools with disadvantaged students(klein). Then on January 8, 2002 president George W. Bush signed the “No Child Left Behind Act”. This act drastically changed the role of the federal government in education. This act was passed to hold schools more accountable for the academic progress of its students(klein). This act requires schools to test students in grades 3-8 in reading and math.

For high school students must test in reading, and math all four years in high school. The results of the tests must be reported to the state for examination. In this law, there is a lot of accountability being issued to these schools by the federal government because of these acts. The law requires all schools to get all of it’s students to the proficient level by the 2013-2014 school year. Although the states get to decide what is considered “proficient,” it is still almost impossible to get every kid to proficient levels. That is an expectation that will never be met by any state as a whole.

All of the states were supposed to have 100 percent of its students proficient by 2015, but no states at all had 100 percent proficiency(klein). That is not the only problem with the “No Child Left Behind Act”. Under the law, if a school with high poverty got under the average state requirement on test scores 3 years in a row, then the schools had to offer free tutoring or let the kids transfer to a different school in the same district(klein). Most kids in these schools did not take advantage of the free tutoring or switching schools(klein).

Also states generally shied away from making drastic changes in schools who are struggling in academic progress(klein). The NCLB law has also been criticized for growing the federal footprint in K-12 education, and for relying too heavily on standardized tests(klein). And others say its emphasis on math and reading tests has narrowed the curriculum, forcing schools to spend less time on subjects that aren’t explicitly tested, like social studies, foreign language, and the arts(klein). These problems with the laws around standardized testing have led many to believe that the federal government shouldn’t have such a big role in education.

That is why the every child succeeds act was passed, and this act takes back some of the laws around standardized testing and the federal government’s role in education. This act, although fixes some problems, still has left many problems. Testing is very costly, and states have to pay a lot of money for it. Is testing really worth the cost to produce them, and grade them? A survey done November 29, 2012 estimates that on average, each state spent over 1. 7 billion a year on standardized testing. Is that too much to spend on standardized testing?

That may seem like a lot of money, but that is only 14 of 1 percent of k-12 education spending. Still if the government instead went and gave teachers raises instead with that money then each teacher on average would make $550 dollars more than they already do which is a %1 percent pay increase. That could be a good motivation for teachers for better performance, and also teachers don’t necessarily make the most money. Teachers definitely deserve more money than they already do. On average, each student who does standardized testing has $27 dollars spent on them.

Now states could save money and get rid of testing altogether or cut costs, but they choose not to. People would not feel the same if they knew how their taxes is spent. Not only would people feel different about paying taxes, but they would also be a little angry. If people knew how much money is distributed unequally then they would also be angry. Just like the unequal distribution of wealth among the rich, and the poor. It is the same for schools because there is definitely a funding gap between schools. On average schools with higher poverty rates receive $1,200 less than schools with the lowest poverty rates(Ushomirsky & Williams).

Now one would think that schools with more kids in need would receive more money for help, but that is not the case. Schools who have more African american students also tend to receive less money than schools with predominately white students(Ushomirsky & Williams). The more resources a school receives, the more a school can spend on resources to help prepare the students for these tests. They could pay the teachers more, or hire better teachers who require more money. Money can be a big factor in how well a student’s test grades are, or even regular grades for that matter.

Standardized testing should not be in place if not every school gets the same chance to succeed. It’s unfair to the students, and also to the teachers who are wrongly judged by the test scores of their students if they don’t have all the resources necessary to teach the testing material. When students don’t get taught correctly or get taught by teachers with less resources than students are put under unnecessary pressure, and stress. The students are stressed about how well they will do on these tests because these tests affect their grade. The pressure and stress put on the kids being tested is unfair.

The school I attend which is New Bloomfield High School; there are a lot of kids who are very stressed, and stay up for hours in the night studying . Standardized testing isn’t only disliked by the students. Teachers also don’t think that standardized testing is appropriate for kids. A survey taken in 2015 by 1500 NEA members said that %70 percent of educators don’t think standardized testing is developmentally appropriate(walker). Most of these teachers believe that standardized tests based on a narrowly prescribed curriculum and linked to specific grade levels are not a good way to judge student or teacher success(walker).

Not only that, but there are standardized tests that if you don’t pass then you don’t graduate. States such as Alabama , Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia all require the exit exam to graduate(wildavsky). The state I live in requires every student to pass the constitution exam with a %70 percent or higher or you can graduate. That is a lot of pressure to put on kids; the fact of if you don’t pass a test then you can’t graduate.

All this pressure and stress the government is putting on the students is unnecessary. There are other ways to measure what a kid has learned during the school year that involve less hair pulling and stress. There is a simple approach to standardized testing; the same tests, but fewer of them(kamentz). Incorporate more, and different, kinds of data on student progress and school performance and accountability measures(Kamenetz). Research shows that at least half of long-term chances of success are determined by nonacademic qualities like grit, perseverance and curiosity(Kamentz).

There is also the idea of video-game like assessments being put into schools. Companies like Glasslab, and the AAA lab at Stanford are creating video-game like assessments on computers (Kamenetz). A researcher at the AAA lab at Stanford has created the theory of assessment which is based on choice (kamenetz). The researcher argues that the ultimate goal of education is to create independent thinkers who make good decisions(Kamenetz). So students need assessments that test how students think, not what they happen to know at a given moment (Kamenetz).

Schools and teachers have a lot of control over the methods of evaluation (Kamentz). So schools and states have the capabilities to change their form of standardized testing to video-game like assessments or fewer tests. A lot of people want Standardized testing to be changed or done away with, yet our government hasn’t done much to change it. In conclusion standardized testing has been a hot topic of debate this century. Yes standardized testing should be changed so it benefits the students. Standardized testing was created to help the children, yet it is doing the opposite.

A lot of money is spent on standardized testing each year when it is not worth it. There are other ways to evaluate if the kids are learning what they are suppose to. These tests put a lot of unnecessary pressure on the kids. Standardized testing shouldn’t be used because it puts unnecessary pressure on kids, it’s not worth the cost, there are different ways to get the same results from standardized testing, and unequal distribution of funding could hurt a school’s overall testing scores making it not as accurate of scores as other schools.

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