Standardized Testing: an Unnecessary Evil

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An American educator who was examining the British educational system once asked a headmaster why so little standardized testing took place in British schools. "My dear fellow," came the reply, "In Britain we are of the belief that, when a child is hungry, he should be fed, not weighed" (Bowers 1). Even though this quote can be construed as being comical and light-hearted, the anecdote suggests the obvious question: "Why do we do so much standardized testing in the United States?" Standardized testing places incredible amounts of stress on teachers and school administrators, as well as the students taking the tests who are afraid that if they don't pass this exam, they might not be able to graduate. Standardized testing does not take in to account students with disabilities, bilingual students who have not yet mastered the entire English vernacular, and students with poor test taking skills. Therefore, if alternatives like portfolio-based assessments and exit exams were implemented, the use of standardized testing would be unnecessary. To begin, tests are called "standardized" when all students taking the exam answer the exact same questions under similar conditions and their responses are scored in the same way…in theory. Even though the questions may be the same, the conditions are impossible to standardize. For example, the people administering the test do not take into the account the students from low-income families, who may suffer problems with housing, nutrition or health care. Also, even if a student knows the material inside and out, backwards and forwards, they just simply do not test well. Test anxiety, along with knowing how important it is to do well on the tests, completely stress them out to the point where it is almost impossible for them concentrate and do well. During my interview with an art teacher at a high school in central Indiana, I learned that a lot of teachers do not agree with all of the standardized testing that takes place in...
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