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Standardized Testing Should Be Abolished in American Schools

Do you remember taking standardized tests as a kid? I sure do. I’m sure you remember the stress, strain, and preparations you and your teacher had. Well, it is my belief that we should do away with standardized tests because standardized testing has been proven to not improve student achievement, standardized tests are not reliable as a form of student measurement, and America is currently facing a creativity crisis while standardized testing and the common core curriculum “dumb down” the younger students of America today which in turn could jeopardize the country’s economic future.

Standardized testing has been proven not to improve student achievement and in fact, only cause more stress. After No Child Left Behind (NCLB) passed in 2002, the US slipped from 18th in the world in math on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to 31st place in 2009, with a similar drop in science and no change in reading (Washington Post)(Coulson)(Walker). A May 26, 2011, National Research Council report found no evidence test-based incentive programs are working: “Despite using them for several decades, policymakers and educators do not yet know how to use test-based incentives to consistently generate positive effects on achievement and to improve education” (Committee on Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Public Education at the National Research Council).

It has also been proven that standardized tests are not a reliable measurement of student achievement. There’s a famous quote by Albert Einstein that I say speaks very true for this reason. He said, “Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.” This meaning that everyone is smart in their own way. A 2001 study published by the Brookings Institution found that 50-80% of year-over-year test score improvements were temporary and “caused by fluctuations that had nothing to do with long-term changes in learning…” (Olson).

If you didn’t know, America is currently facing a creative crisis in which the curriculums we do not have in place are silencing the creativity of its student, essentially making them “dumber”, which could jeopardize our country’s economic future. A 2010 College of William & Mary study found Americans’ scores on the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking have been dropping since 1990, and researcher Kyung-Hee Kim lays part of the blame on the increase in standardized testing: “If we neglect creative students in school because of the structure and the testing movement… then they become underachievers” (Zagursky).

Some people might say that “Teaching to the test” can be a good thing because it focuses on essential content and skills, eliminates time-wasting activities that don’t produce learning gains, and motivates students to excel. But in reality, NCLB (No Child Left Behind) tests are drastically narrowing the curriculum. A national 2007 study by the Center on Education Policy reported that since 2001, 44% of school districts had reduced the time spent on science, social studies and the arts by an average of 145 minutes per week in order to focus on reading and math (Ravitch). A 2007 survey of 1,250 civics, government, and social studies teachers showed that 75% of those teaching current events less often cited standardized tests as the reason (Knight Foundation).

In conclusion, standardized testing should be done away with because they are proven not to work, they are unreliable, and they are killing the creativity in young students.

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