Posted in Education, Students, Teaching, Testing

The Negative Impact of Standardized Testing (One of the Many)

As a student, I hated standardized testing I was forced to complete two to three times a year.  It was tedious and frustrating and didn’t seem to really test anything we had been learning in school.  I never understood the benefits or value in these mandated tests.  What do they prove?  That I know how to fill in bubbles?  I could guess on the entire test and still have a chance at scoring well on it.  That doesn’t seem to equate.  What’s the point then?  Data collection?  What does the data really prove?  It’s certainly not genuine nor reflective of what students are truly capable of.  It also doesn’t align with the curriculum used in the classroom, and so what is the test really assessing?  Perhaps it’s like that show Alias.  The test is really a screening method to recruit new members for the FBI and CIA.  That would be so cool.  If that’s the case, then bring on the test.  I want to have a chance to join the CIA and help keep my country safe.  I totally approve standardized testing if that’s its purpose, but something tells me that I am sorely mistaken.  So then, I stick by my first assertion, standardized testing is unnecessary and a waste of time.

Today is testing day at my school.  The students are completing a standardized test in place of classes today.  All morning long, nothing but testing.  While the students are hanging in there, you can see their frustration levels rising.  They are getting anxious, nervous, frustrated, and mentally tired.  They are beginning to hate testing and school.  If they begin to dislike what we are doing in the sixth grade classroom, it may be difficult to re engage them tomorrow because of the negative experiences they had today.  Is it worth it?  The data isn’t shared with the students nor is it used as a reflective piece for the faculty.  The test doesn’t even align with the curriculum or skills covered.  Then why are we having our students take this test?  Doesn’t it make more sense to move our curriculum forward while engaging the students in genuine learning instead of losing a day and the students’ excitement?  I say, Yes.

Yes, I see the value in being sure we are constantly monitoring what schools and teachers are doing to teach students, but is the form of standardized testing used by many schools around the country the most effective way to do this?  Wouldn’t it make more sense for schools or districts to create their own standardized test that aligns with what they are teaching so that they are assessing their students in a meaningful and relevant manner?  Doesn’t this kind of test make more sense?  So then why are we not moving in that direction?  Let’s build our own tests to collect our own data that works for us, our students, and our schools.  Let’s not succumb to the peer pressure placed on us by states and the government.  Effective teachers know how to teach and help students grow and develop.  So, instead of wasting millions of dollars to be sure our students are learning, let’s spend more money properly training and teaching teachers to effectively assess and monitor the learning of their students.  That makes so much more sense to me.  Perhaps I should run for president.  I’m too late now, but there’s always next time.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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