Among the world leaders in testing its students, the United States’ affection for standardized testing would make a lot more sense if we actually knew if it worked.
Standardized testing is not a new phrase in education, it’s been around for quite some time and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. With the introduction and abandonment of NCLB, which introduced three times as many standardized tests, standardized testing seems like it’s here to stay.
We’ve all been there. The room is quiet, the teachers are visibly annoyed and there’s the one kid who usually sits in the front of the class that’s taking all of this way too seriously. You dread these days because you know that after four hours of testing, you still have three more hours of school to go. Hopefully the teacher will just show a movie…
What Seems to Be the Problem?
There’s a massive problem in the overwhelming amount of tests an average student will take in their schooling career. A study found that the average student in the United States will take approximately 112 mandated tests in their 13 years of schooling, which is nearly nine tests — not including tests administered by teachers for specific classes — a year. In comparison, many countries outperforming the United States on international tests (which are also standardized) only test their students an average of three times a year.
The amount of standardized tests and the need to raise student scores is ironically causing a decline in test scores. The amount of pressure put on the students to do well and pass with a satisfactory score gives students an overwhelming amount of anxiety and, in turn, makes them perform worse.
The Teacher’s Dilemma
Students aren’t the only ones who stress over standardized testing. Race to the Top funding, put in place by the Obama Administration in 2009, offers grants to schools who perform well on standardized tests. If teachers can’t get their students to perform, that means they aren’t performing as teachers and are subsequently let go. So the tests aren’t just a way for states to test their students, but also for schools to test their teachers.
This pushes the schools even further down the rabbit hole, practically forcing teachers to teach to the tests. This comes at the expense of their content, which is also mandated by the government under the Common Core State Standards or their state’s own rules. And if the teachers don’t meet those? You guessed it, their job is in jeopardy.
There have to be pros, thought… right? Well, not even The Washington Post could make a serious article about the pros of standardized testing. Harsh, WP, harsh.
It’s no secret that GenFKD was started, made for and is run by millennials who have gone through this massive overload of tests. As a student, it’s difficult to favor any sort of testing, let alone ones that, in the long run, don’t have a discernible benefit for you.
Looking at standardized testing from the outside, it’s easy to find theoretical reasons for it, but not enough hard data to justify its importance. There needs to be a way to allow every student an equal education.
Attempting a one-size-fits-all approach that attempts to lump all sorts of different minds into high-stress, low-significance tests isn’t helping, it’s actually making things worse.