Standardized Testing

Maren, Alyssa, Madison, Aaron

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Photograph. Time, 11 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


Standardized testing needs reform because of its inaccurate measurement techniques of intelligence. These tests evaluate memorization, encourage teaching to the test, and fail to address cultural differences in our society.

Inaccurate Measure of Intelligence

Assessment expert James Popham explains the countless reasons for the inaccuracy of standardized testing in today's society. Advances in technology combined with the popular belief that testing helps improve student's performance and success leads us to why this kind of testing has such a negative impact on learning (Lederman). Popham also argues that the "descriptions of knowledge and skills on standardized tests are not clear enough to provide a focus for improving instruction..." (Henning).

Cultural Gap

Many cultural aspects exist that contribute to the ineffectiveness and unfairness of standardized testing. Differing ethnicities and languages make excelling in these tests very difficult due to literacy and comprehension barriers. For students that do not have complete comprehension of English, understanding the linguistic structure within test questions proves to be extremely difficult, especially under time constraints (Phillips). Though ethnic culture is a main issue regarding standardized tests, the culture of a person’s environment proves to be an instrumental factor of increasing the numerical gap as well. Attitudes about testing and prior experience with test exposure can affect test scores just as much as linguistic barriers can (Phillips).

Negative Effects

Testing has become an integral part of the United States' school system, however, the time has come to ask at what cost. Testing can actually hurt a child's intrinsic love for learning crippling them when they are introduced to a working environment outside of school (Solley). Teaching students on a test-based curriculum can "exacerbate boredom, fear, and lethargy" (Solley). It can pull honors students into a regular classroom setting as well as forcing children with otherwise normal learning capabilities into remedial classes. Teaching to the test also demeans the value of a teacher in a classroom. Judging a teacher's value on a test score forces the student between creating well-developed children or retaining a job (Williamson). Does America need well trained teachers, or does it need robots trained to teach students to pass a test?

Reform and Possible Solutions

Standardized testing has been implanted into our society and is a vital component of the education system. However, these tests are unable to provide a thorough assessment of students. This controversial issue does not have a single definite solution, but there are various improvements that can be made. Implementing a system that assesses a wider range of skills such as emotional intelligence levels or skills in digital media would allow for a clearer judgement (Redman). Many colleges have also become test optional, by admitting students without the need of standardized test scores (Rimer).
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Photograph. Texas Observer, 3 Sept. 2014. 15 Nov. 2015.

Works Cited

Fiene, Judy, and Susan McMahon. "Assessing comprehension: a classroom-based process: much can be learned about students' comprehension from observation in the classroom. This information can and should be used to supplement standardized test scores." The Reading Teacher 60.5 (2007): 406+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Finneran, Kevin. "The merits of meritocracy." Issues in Science and Technology 15.4 (1999): 27+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Henning, John E. "Teacher Leaders At Work: Analyzing Standardized Achievement Data To Improve Instruction." Education 126.4 (2006): 729. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Khadaroo, Stacy Teicher. "Race to the Top promises new era of standardized testing." Christian Science Monitor 2 Sept. 2010. Student Resources in Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Lederman, Leon M., and Ray A. Burnstein. "Alternative approaches to high-stakes testing: Mr. Lederman and Mr. Burnstein propose a novel way to increase student engagement and counter the pressures of high-stakes testing." Phi Delta Kappan 87.6 (2006): 429. Student Resources in Context. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.

Phillips, Michele. "Standardized tests aren't like t-shirts: one size doesn't fit all." Multicultural Education14.1 (2006): 52. Student Resources in Context. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Redman, Sandi. "Increasing emotional intelligence in the workplace." The Exchange Aug.-Sept. 2008: 8. Student Resources in Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Rimer, Sara. "Study of Standardized Admissions Tests Is Big Draw at College Conference." New York Times 29 Sept. 2008: A13(L). Student Resources in Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Vogler, Kenneth E. "Impact Of A High School Graduation Examination On Tennessee Science Teachers' Instructional Practices." American Secondary Education 35.1 (2006): 33. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

Williamson, Pamela, et al. "Meeting the challenge of high-stakes testing while remaining child-centered: the representations of two urban teachers." Childhood Education 81.4 (2005): 190+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.