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Just a Test Score? - Positions

Jul. 8th, 2006 12:38 am Just a Test Score?

Resolved: Reliance on standardized testing has been detrimental.

For years students across America have had their identities as learners stripped from them. It is not their creativity or inventiveness that matters; it is a number. "The complexity of any child cannot be contained within a single score.*" America is defining students, for potential colleges, for gifted programs, for advanced classes, as being only as good as their performance on one day on one test.

+Tests don't always match the curriculum.
Standardized tests that appeal to large testing groups such as an entire state school system are not necessarily targeted to the individual curriculums of the school. By mandating standardized testing each teacher must attempt to teach directly to the test, which takes away critical learning opportunities.

+Standardized testing does not take into account modern reasearch on learning.
For many years now pyschologists have discovered what they call 'multiple intelligences.' EAch student processes information in their own way, some artistically, others visually or auditorily. In other words whereas some students may be able to perform well in fill-in-the-bubble tests, others are more able to verbally discuss information, or diagram it.

+Tests only test performance on one random day.
There are so many factors that play into test-taking day which can often be forgotten. Some students may nto see any reason to perform well, others are dealing with family problems, some suffer from low-grade fevers. The truth is, no matter how 'standardized' a test is there is no way to moderate the emotions, physical states, and motivations of thousands of students. They shouldn't be judged on one or two days' performance.

+ Test don't ask questions that matter.
Questions are generally not asked that show ability to complete problem-solving tasks, do not adequately measure higher level thinking skills and do not take into account the practical applications of knowledge. By memorizing facts, or being able to do long devision, the person/people considering the results gain no knowledge of the students critical reasoning skills, or their ability to apply concepts to real life problems.

+Pressure for schools to raise scores limits diversity in coursework.
Not only is basic curriculum limited with pressure to raise scores, but programs in the arts, recess, and highschool electives. It is a pity to see these programs being cut back on, for studies show that students involved in programs in the arts are more likely to succeed in school then those who do not diversify their learning experience.

+Standardized test scores create friction between districts.
A constant battle has ensued between many neighboring districts- who will have the highest test scores? As the curriculum narrows, another opportunity is being missed- the prospect of learning and feeding off of other districts. Creating a productive community between districts can be vital to the growth of a school and the area.

+Current testing allows much opportunity for corruption.
Beyond student cheating, standardized testing creates a new venue for lies and unethical behavior. Teachers often feel moreso the need for his/her students to perform, and in some cases may actually alter test scores in his/her students' benefit. Another point also brought about is that the authors of such tests, as well as those who grade written sections may have a particular bias, creating an unfairness for students and certain school systems. Additionally students from lower income families tend to recieve lower scores on testing, which adds to the nations current need for affirmative action in college admissions.

So if standardized testing has been detrimental, what are the alternatives?
1. Review teams can be called in to assess the performance of school districts. This can be mandated by the state just as tests are in order to have a human-defined report on the proficiency of a district.
2. Student portfolios, or collections of essays, in-class quizzes, etc. are great indicators of a student's ability, and show the students strengths and weaknesses in a way that cannot be shown in a series of filled-in bubbles.
3. Grades. Most schools already oporate through a system of grades, on that if necessary has the potential to be a standardized tool for assessing students. Through classroom grades students are assessed for their quizzes, their writings, their projects, and their presentations, therefore taking into consideration more than one type of intelligence.
4. Another way to assess students is through communication with the teachers themselves. They can provide important feedback to parents as well as review-teams, and should be the most vital source of determining a student's progress, as they are the the one constantly interacting with the student through his/her learning process.


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Date:July 8th, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)


I've always felt the same way with this issue, but those are some very nice arguments. However, if tests were eliminated how would the federal government be able to classify schools who were doing well veruses schools doing poorly? (As in No Child Left Behind Act)
Just something to ponder.

ps- at least now I'm not the only nerd with a politics blog.