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Are We Over-Testing Our Students?
By Ryan Crawley,
24 Jan 2020
Not every assessment of a student in a classroom has to be a test.
More and more parents are coming to this realization, even if the school officials are not.
The average student in the United States’ public schools takes about some 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and the end of their senior year.
Let that number sink in a bit.
That is an average of about eight a year.
Which means that every student in a public school in the U.S.
takes an average of one mandatory standardized-test every month of the school year.
This is not even taking into consideration any of the tests that the classroom teacher gives the students throughout the year.
The government and their high stakes testing is a bit out of control.
They are measuring the intelligence of a student and the ability of a school to educate through a series of tests that are mostly taken in a span of a few days.
It seems like an extremely unfair way of determining the effectiveness of a teacher and the ranking of a student.
One bad day could sink both.
If the student is not feeling well or is distracted by other issues, it does not matter.
There are no retakes.
The Tension Rises
At the beginning of the year, the school receives the scores from the previous school year on how well the students did and how well the school did as a whole.
The school ranking becomes public knowledge for those that are interested.
It is simple to see how tension and anxiety rises throughout the year.
Educators don’t want their students to receive low scores because people believe it reflects on their teaching, and there is always a possibility of being reprimanded because of it.
Administrators do not want to see low scores because the school is under their guidance.
In addition, parents of students that receive low scores tend to blame the classroom teacher or the school in general instead of focusing on their kid or their parenting style.
It is an anxiety-ridden school year with all of the standardized testing being done.
The Teachers Have Two Options
There are two choices for classroom teachers to make when handling the standardized tests.
They can either choose to ignore the tests and keep on teaching the best way they know how, or they can pour over the practice tests with their students and teach directly according to the standardized tests.
Either way, it is a tough call to make to choose one or the other.
If you decide to teach entirely to the tests, it is easy to lose your love of teaching quickly.
If you just educate the students the way you know how from your years of experience, you could be costing them on the tests.
It truly is a double-edged sword.
Most people enter the teaching field because they want to make a difference in kids’ lives.
They want to make school fun and exciting while learning along the way through authentic experiences.
I can honestly say as a veteran teacher that there were definitely times when I was learning right along with the students.
Teaching is one of the most exciting careers a person can have if they truly love what they are doing.
But teaching towards standardized tests is very limiting and will eventually push good teachers out of the field.
How Did We Arrive at this Problem
Former President Ronald Reagan eloquently said the worst eleven words a person will ever hear is the following: I am from the government and I am here to help.
These standardized tests are being pushed on to school districts by legislation.
The testing industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry.
The testing companies gain backing from the politicians by gifting them thousands of dollars into their campaigns or even straight into their pockets.
In return, the politicians make it mandatory that public schools use these specific tests by tying federal and state money to them.
If the school is performing well on the tests, they will be receiving their fair share from the government.
If they are not doing well on the tests, it may essentially be placing them in the red.
Parents Opting Out
Many parents are growing frustrated with the amount of mandatory standardized tests that are being forced upon their child.
Because of this, quite a few are opting out of the test.
They request that their student does not take the test, and the school has to listen to them.
The opt-out movement has been gaining traction the last few years.
If you are a parent, teacher, or school official that feels these tests are part of the problem instead of the solution, make your voice heard by contacting politicians and making others aware of the problem.