Standardized Testing – Helpful or a Waste of Time?

By Nancy Mikhail

Amy Frogge, a mother in Nashville, is bringing light to how much time students are spending on standardized testing. Her frustration is clearly expressed in the title: “My third grader is losing 6-8 weeks this year to standardized testing – for no good reason.” Students are in school for 10 months out of the year. According to Frogge, this means that students are consumed by testing for 1 1/2 – 2 months of those 10 months.  This number can’t be factual.

But it’s true.

Teachers spend weeks preparing students for standardized testing followed by more weeks of actual testing. What is the benefit?

People that created the test believe that the results of this test are a true testament of student achievement and success. However, are these numbers truly measuring student achievement? Are these numbers as accurate as test makers hope?

Some students, such as myself, are not good test takers and experience inhibitive anxiety prior to a test. These students could be the brightest, highest achieving students, but their test scores would not be indicative of this information because they perform poorly on tests. Is this fair?

Also, as Frogge mentions, “the results of this year’s standardized tests will not be available until NEXT YEAR, when the students who took the tests have moved along to the next teacher and grade level- and sometimes the next school.” This forces me to ask: what’s the point?

If teachers cannot use the results to help students, and students move on and begin another school year, then these tests are not being used accurately.

According to ProCon.org, “Standardized testing has not improved student achievement.” The United States has dropped from being in the 18th in world math to the 31st place. Also, “Standardized tests are unfair and discriminatory against non-English speakers and students with special needs.” Regardless of the student’s language or disability, they are required to take the test with little to no accommodations.

Instead of utilizing this insane amount of time for testing, why not make learning worthwhile for students? Students should be involved in their education through hands-on activities; researching; and creating. They should be using their critical-thinking skills instead of sitting for two hours bubbling in answers.

It’s important to measure nationwide student achievement, but there has to be a better system. I believe testing should consist of a comprehensive exam in which students take summative tests, and apply their knowledge through projects and observations.

Unfortunately, this process is not going to change anytime soon. In the meantime, teachers will have to make the best out of the situation, encourage children to do their best, and cultivate their creativity through other projects and activities throughout the school year.

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