Non-stop Testing

Gabe Friz-Trillo, Writer

Tests are the epicenter of a student’s life. Whether focusing on the ability of the alphabet to theoretical physics, in the end students just cannot seem to escape from them.

However, while they do seem daunting, tests can provide benefits to both students and teachers as they can “capture the strengths of all [students]…[and] the growth that can be ascribed to individual teachers,” according to the Vermont State Board of Education.

The Board also used the same statement to address standardized testing describing it as “a critical tool for schools’ improvement efforts…[can] give educators and citizens insight into the skills, knowledge and capabilities our students have developed.”

While acknowledging the positives that standardized testing produces, the Board also paid a special attention to the negatives that come with standardized testing as, “they cannot tell us how to help students do even better. Nor can they adequately capture the strengths of all children, nor the growth that can be ascribed to individual teachers.”

In the end the Board brought everything together in a clear point that, “a single test is inadequate to capture a year’s’ worth of learning and growth.”

The Board’s statement on the impact of standardizing testing, while sound, seems to go against the current trend surfacing, as “test sales have grown from approximately $260 million annually in 1997 to approximately $700 million today,” as reported by Jonathan Supovitz.

This growth comes no surprise to students, especially those in highschool, with SATs, ACTs, and state testing. It would seem that there is always another standardized test looming around the corner.

With such pressure constantly focused on students to succeed in these areas it is only plausible that certain students fall behind, the best case scenario, or worse.

The worst part though, is not education that students are missing, but the sad findings which report that “high-stakes testing undermines, rather than enhances, efforts to improve education for all children,” according to Judy Jones.

The finds are equivalent to a slap in the face to those that were unable to succeed in a standardized testing situation as the findings found that “high-stakes testing puts narrow, flawed instruments at the center of education and leads to intensive teaching to the exams, which does not result in real learning gains.

At the same time, many children are less motivated, are denied a high-quality educational experience, and become more likely to leave school before graduating,” as continued by Jones.

With the situation rising even the APA, American Psychological Association, decided to chime in; stating that “No test is valid for all purposes. Indeed, tests vary in their intended uses and in their ability to provide meaningful assessments of student learning. Therefore, while the goal of using large-scale testing to measure and improve student and school system performance is laudable, it is also critical that such tests are sound, are scored properly, and are used appropriately.”  

In the end standardized testing, while having benefits, is actually detrimental to students as it is currently creating a situation where a teacher is teaching according to a test, not for the students.