The Jetstream Journal

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Standardized Testing Challenges

Original+photo+by+Olivia+Peluso.
Original photo by Olivia Peluso.

Original photo by Olivia Peluso.

Original photo by Olivia Peluso.

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Imagine you are being told that you must complete one task to ever be successful. You prepare for months, possibly even years for this task. You have collected resources upon resources, done intense research, and taken notes deliberately. You have been told all minds are different and process information uniquely, no two learning styles are similar. When this task suddenly comes, you are told to not use any of your resources, there is only one way the task is administered, disregarding individualism, and this task determines whether you are to pursue your dreams.

This may sound familiar because that describes a standardized test taken by high school students across the nation. While testing is not unreasonable, one test which is precisely the same for every student dismisses creativity, hard work, and the “real world”.

Each year an almost eerie few months creeps into every high schooler’s lives. This would be “the testing months”, usually February-April. These months are filled with studying for important tests.

“Why is it that when we are already slammed with homework, stress, and pressure, a standardized test is seen as an effective way to measure success in the classroom? It seems impossible to perform my best. Standardized tests completely contradict the idea that each learner is different,” says Cori Campbell, junior.

Such tests as the SAT and ACT can and sometimes will determine college selections and job opportunities. These test’s scores become an obsession to students, teachers, and administers. Teachers can be evaluated using these tests and this risks their occupations. Often, teachers can be seen “teaching to the test.” Critics point out that this does not promote the important ideals of imagination, creativity, and individualism.

The needs of the individual student are often ignored and instead replaced with a standard. This standard assumes that each learner is similar and that the “cookie cutter” approach is not only efficient but the only way to evaluate the success of a child in the classroom. The tests are taken in what can be called an “artificial environment”. They are timed, without resources, and without talking, which, as some students point out, does not sound like the real world. Some question when there will be a time in the workforce or in almost any circumstance that students will be told to not use resources, peers, or time to complete something with as much emphasis as standardized tests have. While these may determine a future, many students say they do not prepare for the future.

Not only are these tests disregarding what is the “real world”, they may not often be an accurate representation of what is learned in the classroom. Some students who have not reached a specific level of a subject are tested on material which is higher than they have been taught.

“Standardized testing devalues the American educational system by allowing students to believe they are expected to perform and understand in the same exact way as their classmates,” Sam Brooks, a junior, comments.

It seems every “beneficial” thing in society today is only beneficial to one. One criticism is that standardized testing purely benefits the test making companies. Each time a student is administered a test, the company earns profit. Those in high positions in school systems earn funding through students taking tests. Stress is placed on teachers and students to perform when these measures of success do not have purpose to students other than further schooling.

Standardized tests taken by students across the nation have been given too much emphasis and only increase levels of stress, some critics of standardized testing note.

“Teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy…many also report feeling overwhelmed (31 percent) and depressed or sad (30 percent) as a result of stress. More than one-third of teens report fatigue or feeling tired (36 percent) and nearly one-quarter of teens (23 percent) report skipping a meal due to stress,” reports the American Psychological Association.

While standardized testing will not go away in the near future, critics and students provide food for thought on the assessment issue.

 

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Standardized Testing Challenges