Elimination of Standardized Testing
Before standardized testing, the only way to measure students’ growth and knowledge was through oral testing. In 1915, Frederick J. Kelly published a book containing the first standardized test as well as its instructions for anyone administering the test. Now standardized tests are given to students usually starting in kinder, or even pre-kinder, all the way through the rest of their education. Initially, the goal of standardized testing was an alternative to oral testing for determining students’ preparedness for college. Now standardized tests are used in students’ everyday lives. All school year long students are taught information that they will be tested on later, or at the end of the school year. The goal of standardized testing has developed to become not the only measurement for students’ individual growth but also for teachers’ performance in the classroom and schools’ performance overall. However, the effectiveness is questionable. Nowadays it seems as if standardized tests have become schools’ main, and sometimes only, focus. Standardized tests attempt to measure how well students do in the classroom, but there are many negative things about standardized tests that make it hard to accurately measure a student’s growth. Instead of the teacher teaching for their students to gain knowledge that they will need later in life, they end up simply teaching the test, focusing only on the material given. The effect of this testing on students is not always a positive one, in the sense that standardized testing induces stress on young kids. Furthermore, and quite ironically, even the creator of standardized testing (along with other educators of the time) originally thought these tests were too cruel and should not be used in classrooms. Standardized testing is no longer as effective as it once was because it has been overused. They should be altered if not eliminated completely.
The Kansas Silent reading test was the first multiple choice exam, given in 1915 to secondary students, so educators could examine their ability to read and comprehend. The test had a set amount of time, testing the speed and accuracy of the student’s understanding. When Frederick J Kelly first invented standardized tests, after some evaluation he thought the conditions, students were put under to take these standardized tests were too harsh. They would be required to read the questions themselves and choose from a set of answers for a timed test. All students are different, and they show their capability to learn and retain information in many different ways. Standardized tests are simply too standard for them to be an accurate representation of millions of students with different learning styles. He came to the conclusion that standardized testing was “too crude to use [in classrooms] and should be abandoned” (Cohen). In fact, in a survey conducted by the national educator’s association, over seventy percent of over fifteen hundred teachers said state assessments are not “developmentally appropriate for their students”. Eighty-one percent of teachers think that their state’s one size fits all style tests are too extensive and do not accurately represent what their students have learned over the school year (Cohen). This says more than enough about standardized testing in general. It proves that so many people are against the use of it, and do not think it is in anyways helpful for students in the long run. Putting students through standardized testing is ineffective and unnecessary.
Because standardized tests do not really have much variety, teachers often become accustomed to the test. Over their years of teaching, they may end up “teaching the test”. When students are taught the test, it becomes more of a memorization of facts than it is the application of knowledge. This is not the most effective way of learning for all students. Some students may be good with memorizing important things, then applying the concept to whatever it is they are being tested on. However, other students may have to understand the concept in the first place in order to really be able to apply it to the test. When comparing the number of standardized tests taken from the equivalent of kinder to twelfth grade worldwide, it’s proven that the number of standardized tests a student takes before college does not determine how smart they are (“Do Standardized Tests”). Between Pre-k and twelfth grade, students take an average of 112 standardized tests, taking over 25.3 hours over the whole school year. In Finland, students were tested over fifty percent less than students in the US, but their math and science proficiency were significantly higher, as well as their reading comprehension. This goes to show that no matter how many standardized tests students take over the course of their k-12 education standardized testing never really helps, or hurts when it comes to overall performance.
Most importantly, there is an abundance of evidence demonstrating that standardized tests inflict negative stress on students. Because of the stress that these standardized tests cause, students’ connection to the school, in general, becomes unpleasant. Stress can be hard to identify in younger kids. For kindergarten students standardized testing is rather new and can be very confusing, not making much sense to someone so young. During a study, 22 kindergarteners were given a standardized test and a bubble sheet to fill out their answers. Not even 20 minutes into the test, students became distracted and frustrated with the test. One kid dropped their pencil over and over again so they would not have to take the test. Another kid made a pattern with their answers on the bubble sheet. Clearly, there is no way this could accurately represent anything the student had learned over the school year. This proves that even starting at a young age, a negative image of the school, in general, is put in these students’ heads. Psychologically they grow farther and farther away from liking school. Students already have so much on their plate as it is. They are constantly and persistently trying to keep grades up and submit homework every night on top of any outside-of-school activities. Standardized testing only makes all these ten times harder. In some cases, after students get their score, parents’ opinions on how they could have done better compared to their classmates adds to all the negative effects of standardized testing, so even after the test is over, students are still affected. “Standardized tests are useful only when comparing student test scores across the nation, …to evaluate different schools’ academic procedures and effectiveness. [They] should not be the only source employed when evaluating a student’s academic competency” (Roe). Standardized tests are helpful to some degree but fall short when it comes to the process of trying to evaluate a student’s academic ability. If the means and methods for standardized testing were different, or if the whole concept of standardized testing were to be eliminated completely, the stress on students would not be so detrimental. There would be no need for students, or their parents for that matter, to be compared to their peers. Students would have more time to focus on things outside of school and become more well-rounded as opposed to just being academically oriented. In a research study conducted by Texas A