Standardized Testing: A harsh reality
Standardized testing has been an ongoing topic of discussion for many years, and it has become a topic surrounded by controversy. Those in favor of standardized testing say it is a fair way to measure student achievement, holding teachers and schools accountable to taxpayers. Opponents claim standardized tests promote a narrow curriculum that some would say, “teaches to the test”. I have no data to support my findings, all I have is my experience with one particular standardized test.
Let me take you back to 2011, my junior year at Garden Spot High School. This is the last year students have to take Pennsylvania’s standardized test (PSSA), which tests reading, math, writing and science. I viewed these couple days delegated to testing as a break, a time to sit next to friends I didn’t have any classes with. I also looked forward to the muffins and Sunny D that was given out for free before the tests, my mind was focused on everything but the test. Why would I care about a test that has no effect on my report card? I would just fill my little dots without even reading the questions sometimes. I looked forward to finishing so I could draw sketches on my notepad. I recall a lot of pressure being put on us to perform well, which never made sense to me. I knew we were not held accountable as individuals for our test scores, why were should I care? Looking back I realize it was the administration just needing us to do well to keep the state off of their back, also a time for the school district to flex their muscles and prove to the others that they were superior. There was no room for the individual learning experience, either learn the stuff of get lost, students were not important. Students were prepared for the test with material specific to the PSSA, “teaching to the test”. This would not be a problem, if the material was not so specialized and tailored for the PSSA. The test put pressure on the school districts to make sure their students are prepared for certain questions pertaining to the PSSA which put the individual child’s learning needs on the back burner. Standardized tests promote black and white in a world of gray that we call education.
As an advocate for innovative learning with The Franklin Foundation, standardized testing is a figurehead for the problem with education. Teaching the master plan to all students just so the district can be deemed successful, all while overlooking the individual needs of a student. If you don’t learn in a manner that the PSSA is designed for (like myself), you’re going to get left behind. Evaluation is very useful tool within a class curriculum for a student. However high-stakes testing in which schools and teachers are labeled as failures is destroying our education system. Schools and teachers are so terrified of being marked as inadequate that they forget their real purpose, to help nurture and teach young adults anyway they. Can we all just stop pretending standardized tests are about the education of the kids?