Every student in every classroom can think back to high school, middle school and elementary school and one thing pops out, spending weeks of sitting in a small hard desk, filling out bubble after bubble on a never ending test. Standardized testing has become so prominent in todays education system. However, do they need to be so popular? Every school in the United States uses them. If every school uses them they must be important right? This question is being heavily debated within the education discourse. There are many teachers for it and just as many against it.
In 2001, President Bush passed the act called No Child Left Behind. The goal of this act was to get the United States education system back on par with the leading countries in education. The way that progress was to be assessed was through standardized testing. Standardized tests got very popular because it was an easy way to test students. They are designed to be fare and as uniformed as possible.
Since 2002, when the No Child Left Behind Act was passed The United States was ranked 18th in the world. In 2009, the U.S. has dropped down to 31st in the world.
This Graph shows that basically half of schools in 2011 were unable to meet the standards of No Child Left Behind. More and more schools are unable to meet education requirements. Could this be because of standardized testing? Kathy Korte is a co-founder of Stand4KidsNM, and is a member of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education. She recently wrote an article on the topic of standardized tests, Korte explains, “In classrooms across New Mexico and Tennessee, standardized tests are taking away valuable classroom learning. Of the 174 days our children attend school in New Mexico, 76 of those days are impacted by some standardized test or another. In Tennessee, teachers estimate that at least 1/3 of the year is devoted to testing or test preparation.” (Kathy Korte) So much time is spent on preparing kids for standardized testing. If there were no standardized testing could teachers do a better job on educating their students? Teachers spend so much time teaching their students what is going to be on the test. They teach to the test. According to Gerald W. Bracey, PhD, he explains how standardized tests are so lacked in the areas of “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, integrity.” It is impossible to test these but many would argue that these are the most important lessons learned in school.
Standardized testing does give schools an idea of what subjects they lack in and what subjects they excel in. For example, if the test scores come back and the school is low in science, obviously they need to do something in order to improve that area.
One main thing standardized tests lack is that the same test is given to everybody. Kids that speak English as a second language are given the same test. Mentally handicapped kids are given the same test. Everyone receives the same test. The test scores are not going to be as accurate because of this.
Standardized tests, as of right now, are needed. With out them we would have no way to determine how we, as a country are doing in education. That being said, standardized tests are very lacking, and maybe even cripple students.