Standardized Testing: Hurting or Helping the Education of Today

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“Standardized Testing: Hurting or Helping the Education of Today?”
Standardized testing has been embedded in children from the time they first enter kindergarten all the way through grade school and high school years and finally ending in college and graduate school. It has become so frequent that it is no longer questioned why these tests are necessary, and by the time a person is finally through with school, they have taken an average of twenty to twenty-two tests. Although countless generations of Americans have had to sit through these tests, never have they played such a prominent role in schooling. Usually these exams were used to administer a child’s performance in the classroom and what he or she has learned so far, along with where to place the child and what kind of help he or she needs. However now, Deborah White explains that with the enactment of the “No Child Left Behind Act”, these tests are used to judge students, teachers, and schools unfairly (Pro & Cons of the NCLBA). For example they are used as a basis to flunk students who do not meet the required test scores to pass the test, deny a graduating high school student a diploma because his or her entire high school performance, in the end, is based on passing a series of standardized tests, and to determine where to award federal funds to schools, not based on population or needs, but on test scores. Standardized testing hinders the educational system in several ways: it hinders a teacher’s ability to teach his or her students the proper curriculum because he or she instead is pressured into focusing on “teaching the test” which results in part of the curriculum being neglected and factors such as creativity and different techniques of learning and teaching in the classroom being ignored, it hinders students by judging their entire academic career on an objective test instead of grades, and it hinders school systems who now must be depend on students’ test scores for funding and be punished if scores are not satisfactory.

With the passing of the “No Child Left Behind Act”, teachers were forced to focus more on teaching and preparing students for standardized tests rather than teaching subjects that may not necessarily be on the tests, but is essential to a student’s basic knowledge. To insure teachers would not dismiss this idea, “the government created several ways to motive teachers: first, by making sure tests are giving frequently; second, by publishing scores and encouraging the public to view them; and finally using an assortment of bribes and threats to both to students and teachers to coerce them into concentrating on test results”(Kohn 21). Some on these bribes include bonuses for teachers and schools, while the students receive food, tickets to theme parks or sporting events, exemption from in-class final exams, and even substantial scholarships. The threats include loss of funding or accreditation for schools, while students may be held back or denied a high school diploma, regardless of their overall academic record. This technique is known as “high-stakes testing” (Kohn 20). In preparation for these tests, teachers prepare test exercises and practice tests that are suppose to insure a student’s success on the test, but instead place so much emphasis on the testing that learning that was once exciting and entertaining has become repetitive and boring. Some teachers have even had to end fun learning activities to instead focus more on standardized testing. For example one teacher represents thousands more in the same predicament: Kathy Greely, a Cambridge Massachusetts, middle school teacher, devised a remarkable unit in which every student selected an activity that he or she cared about and proceeded to become an expert in it. Each subject was researched intensively, described in a detailed report, and taught to the rest of the class. The idea was to hone researching and writing skills, but to also help each student feel like an expert in...
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