Standardized tests have been part of American education since the mid-1800s. Failures in the education system have been blamed on the pervasive use of standardized tests. Standardized tests do not measure student achievement or ability.
There are better ways to measure student achievement and ability. These ways include good teacher observation, documentation of student work, and performance -based assessment, all of which involve the direct evaluation of real learning tasks, provide useful material for teachers, parents, and the public (Fairtest 1) . Many nations that do other alternatives like Finland, use these techniques instead of large-scale standardized testing . “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” (ProCon) . Standardized tests are an unreliable measure of student performance. “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-term changes in learning…
¨ (ProCon).Most teachers and administrators approve of standardized tests. Minnesota teachers and administrators interviewed for a study in the Oct.
28, 2005, issue of the peer-reviewed Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA) approved of standardized tests “by an overwhelming two-to-one margin,” saying they “improved student attitudes, engagement, and effort.” An oft-cited Arizona State University study in EPAA´s Mar.28, 2002 edition, concluding that testing has little educational merit, has been discredited by educational researchers for poor methodology, and was criticized for wrongly blaming the tests the themselves for stagnant test scores, rather than the shortcomings of teachers and schools (ProCon).
According to the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, multiple choice questions can provide “highly reliable test scores¨and an “objective measurement of student achievement¨ (ProCon). The US Department of education stated in Nov. 2004 that “if teachers cover subject matter required by the standards and teach it well, then students will master the material on which they will be tested and probably much more” (ProCon). Standardized tests measure only a small portion of what makes education meaningful.
According to late education researcher Gerald W. Bracey, PhD, qualities that standardized tests cannot measure include “creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self awareness, self discipline, leadership,civic mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty and integrity (ProCon). Standardized tests are unnecessary because they rarely show what we don’t already know.
Ask any teacher and she can tell you which students can read and write. That telling usually comes in the form of letter grades or evaluations that break down progress on skills. So trust the teacher. Publish grade distributions. Locally publish a compilation of evaluation reports. Release a state or national report reviewed and verified by expert evaluators with legislative oversight. (Jourlies 1). Standardized tests will never answer the questions of what children need to learn to be leaders and informed citizens in a multicultural, ever-changing world (Cengage 20).
In the past standardized testing or IQ tests were used to sort children mostly along racial class lines. The latest form of standardized testing is getting similar results. Standardized tests can actually determine teaching and learning in ways that can harm children.
Standardized tests only test factual knowledge (recall) and not aspects of thinking and learning (Cengage 20). We do not learn much from standardized testing, and we have lost a great deal by giving it so much prominence. The common core is at risk for failure, not because the standards are bad per say, but because with standardized accountability , as in so many partial reforms, we again won’t get a real picture of achievement, people will be disappointed, and the standards and testing will run their course. Instead, why not just teachers and schools to report the progress of their students with the measures they have, and use internal and external local pressures to improve the measures and practices? It will avoid a plethora of social, emotional, and political costs (Jouriles 2).
Teaching to the test weakens education. “In the following viewpoint, Judy Willis maintains that the teaching to the test that has followed the institution of No Child Left Behind has resulted in teaching that focuses on rote memorization of facts/ideas without context or relevance” (Willis 56) Such teaching does not provide the cues for novelty or pleasure that the brain looks for and that attract its attention. The toxic effect of this teaching/learning environment is made worse by the stress that accompanies standardized testing. This toxic environment needs to be replaced by education that is relevant to student’s lives, interests, and experiences without being intimidating (Willis 56). Teaching to the test is replacing good teaching practices with drill n kill rote learning. A five-year University of Maryland study completed in 2007 found ?he pressure teachers were feeling to teach to the test since NCLB was leading to declines in teaching higher-order thinking, in the amount of time spent on complex assignments, and in the actual amount of high cognitive content in the curriculum (ProCon).”Standardized testing causes severe stress in younger students. According to education researcher Gregory J.
Cizek, anecdotes abound “illustrating how testing…produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both.” On Mar. 14, 2002, the Sacramento Bee reported that “tests related jitters, especially among young students, are so common that the Stanford-9 exam comes with instructions on what to do with a test booklet in case a student vomits on it” (ProCon).
“Several districts and states have eliminated tests and cut assesment time to make room for instruction and reduce stress (DeNisco 1).” Standardized tests are not beneficial and cause stress. Standardized tests do not teach anything. They do not measure students achievements or abilities.