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Get Rid of Standardized Tests

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Toss the Test

Consider a fifth-grade boy who, researchers found, could flawlessly march through the steps of subtracting 2 5/6 from 3 1/3, ending up quite correctly with 3/6 and then reducing that to 1/2. Unfortunately, successful performance of this final reduction does not imply understanding that the two fractions are equivalent. In fact, this student remarked in an interview that 1/2 was larger than 3/6 because "the denominator is smaller, so the pieces are larger." Meanwhile, one of his classmates, whose answer had been marked wrong because it hadn't been expressed in the correct terms, clearly had a better grasp of the underlying concepts (Kohn 7). This is one of the many ways standardized tests have incorrectly demonstrated academic achievement. State sanctioned tests have offered no positive advancement in education and are relied upon too heavily for life altering information. Standardized test also only measures a small portion of what students know. State administered tests reduce the fervor of learning and makes it a task. Finally, cultural differences among students put them at a disadvantage when taking high stakes tests. While there are many positive reasons for these assessments, the truth is they are doing more harm than good, and because of this they need to be removed.

Originally, tests that were given in educational settings were used to define student placement and determine if extra help would need to be provided to ensure academic success. Now, since the implementation of standardized tests, testing is used as a guide to unfairly judge students, teachers, and schools. Students and teachers alike depend upon a good score on standardized tests for continued enrollment and employment. This is disconcerting to a student, especially one who knows the subject material, but does not test well. Their future and the future of their teacher depends on one test, one that has so many variables that are not taken into account when graded, like a student’s emotional and mental health when testing. Race to the Top (RttP) was a new initiative signed into law in 2009 in hopes of raising Americas declining test scores. Now it is used as a basis in which a teachers effectiveness is being measured, using standardized tests. Policies such as the RttP initiative penalize teachers who teach certain pupils because their students are less likely to improve (Hani, 3). This leads to teachers not wanting to teach students that are English Language Learners or students with disabilities, as they are less likely to show improvement and will drop a teachers chance at a raise or good marks on their evaluation. It also discourages teachers from taking jobs in certain communities or schools with a bad reputation. Schools are being ranked off of the scores of their teachers and students as well. Depending on the economic background of the schools community, they are less likely to receive funding to help pay to make the change needed to improve their standing, often leading to the closure of the school. Employing standardized achievement tests to ascertain educational quality is like measuring temperature with a tablespoon. Tablespoons have a different measurement mission than indicating how hot or cold something is. Standardized achievement tests have a different measurement mission than indicating how good or bad a school is. Standardized achievement tests should be used to make the comparative interpretations that they were intended to provide. They should not be used to judge educational quality (Popham, 4). Relying on standardized test to measure the quality of our educational accomplishments is unacceptable when they only measure a portion of the knowledge students know.

Standardized tests can't measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes. What they can measure and count are isolated skills, specific facts and functions, the least interesting and least significant aspects of learning (Kohn,11). These isolated skills that students are being tested on are facts that they are being subjected to memorize and learn but after the test or a few weeks to months after learning will no longer remember. Learning these things will help students favorably when taking a test given the fact that they are multiple choice, and many times tend to jog some type of responsive memory from reading the questions, but this skill is not going to help them in their future. Being amazing test takers will not help them land a job interview, or be able to hold an intelligent conversation or speak in public. Our students use up most of their educational time on learning how to properly take a test, what they can and can not do, and what and how they are allowed to answer. From the first day of school to the last students have this heavy burden of “The Test” hanging over them. This one test is the cause of their future but at the same time does not properly prepare them for that future. Test preparation is being send home as homework and encouraged to be done even during weekends and winter and spring breaks. Recess time is being cut because there is just not enough time in the school day for students to retain everything they are required to know to pass the test. Students are no longer allowed the privilege of being children. Students are taking practice tests multiple times throughout the year in grades as low as Kindergarten. All of these tests on top of the general education test teacher supplement to make sure they understand each chapter they only get to spend a couple of hours a week on. This information is being shoved down their throat so much when the real test finally comes around they do not care anymore, they just want to get it over with and do not try their hardest. They lose interest. They lose interest in studying, in school, in reading just to read because they want to. They no longer appreciate or enjoy their education. All of this time is taken away to train for this test when it could be put to better use molding our children into citizens that will and can effectively make a difference in our world, not just take a test. Not only are standardized tests not assessing what matters most but the grades for standardized tests are received after the



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