Robert L. White
February 2, 2006
In years past thousands of grade school students have been drug throughout the school systems of the United States without a single thought to whether they acquired the knowledge necessary to be successful in the working world or college. Since the signing of No Child Left Behind Act by President George W. Bush, many believe standardized or "high stakes" testing places advantages and disadvantages on some students. Some worry certain students will be unfairly penalized if they do not happen to test well, and teachers may concentrate on the test topics at the exclusion of more important lessons. However, standardized testing is a benchmark that should be practiced in all schools, and not only raises the bar for school systems, but challenges students to learn as well. There are three key ways in which this type of testing plays a significant role in the preparation of students for advancement. One, it improves the accountability of students and school systems. Two, it motivates students to learn the material rather than just memorizing for tests. Three, it can identify students who are doing poorly early on, and keep them from falling behind indefinitely.
There have been many that have gone through public school systems, and been the victim of poorly organized classes. These classes were the product of a teacher who was not qualified to be teaching that subject or a program which had not been thought out. Students find out quickly that because of poor planning by the teacher they can do very little and still get an A. According to Joe Messerli, a writer for BalancedPolitics.org, standardized testing ensures that students are required to learn a minimum amount of material no matter who their teachers are or which schools they go to (2003). Furthermore, standardized testing also holds school systems accountable for the teaching of students. Through the use of standardized testing local, state, and government officials can pinpoint systems in which abnormal amounts of students are falling behind. This also reveals schools that lack the funding to educate students properly.
Standardized testing motivates students to learn material rather than just memorizing for tests. A class composed of several small tests which equal an average will not be near as effective as one whose final analysis, in addition to several small tests is composed of a comprehensive standardized test. This insures important information needed to be successful by the student has been learned for class. It is far too easy for a student to cram for several small tests, pass them, and then forget all the information in less than twenty-four hours. A standardized test which dictates a possible pass or fail letter grade at the end of the year insures students have incentive to learn, and retain the information passed out and lectured on in class. Testing such as this also prepares students for future standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT allowing them to open their minds to different study techniques which aid in memorization of such knowledge.
As stated by Messerli (2003), Knowledge is cumulative, so a student doing poor early can end up being behind indefinitely. With that being said, standardized testing ensures students that are falling behind get necessary help required to pass future courses. For example, if you do not fully understand basic concepts of math you might find it difficult later on to study and comprehend algebra. If the basic principles of arithmetic (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing) are understood algebra is much easier to study and understand. Standardized tests in math would ensure students that did not understand basic concepts would not move into other higher level courses that require this knowledge. In return it would allow students who understand basic concepts not only in math, but...