Education and Standardized Testing
The use of standardized tests has significantly increased in the past decade. The supporters of the tests believe that standardized testing is necessary for evaluating the progress of the students and assessing the quality of teaching. Other groups emphasize that testing requires too much time and resources: particularly, teachers need to devote too many hours to preparing children for evaluation. This paper discusses the ideas of two interest groups and their incentives to the general population. Analyzing of arguments of both sides will allow understanding the real advantages and disadvantages of standardized testing.
I do not support standardized testing due to several reasons. First, tests cannot evaluate the skills and knowledge of children objectively because the results demonstrate only students’ achievements at the moment of evaluation. Second, teachers need to spend much time on preparing students for exams, so do not have enough time to give knowledge and develop the skills, which students would need in their future life (Tanner 4). Therefore, students could know how to pass tests but would not have real academic achievements. Third, constant testing is stressful for students, especially the ones in elementary school. They might feel as they are checked all the time; hence, they cannot relax and enjoy the learning process. This fact reduces the motivation and productivity of children. Third, testing is stressful and exhausting for teachers since the results of testing reflect their performance. Although testing is more objective than teachers’ evaluation, it cannot be used as the only way of tracking the students’ performance (Morgan 67). The main aim of teachers should be improving children’s knowledge and skills but not preparing them for tests. Otherwise, children will learn only to pass tests rather than develop themselves.
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Arguments of Two Sides
The major supporters of standardized tests are civil rights advocates. They believe that standardized tests protect struggling students (Layton). Thus, publicly reported test results to reduce the achievement gap between children from disadvantaged families and their more privileged peers. These ideas served as a foundation for the No Child Left Behind Act, which has led to increasing the number of tests in American schools. Civil rights advocates emphasize that tests encourage teachers and schools to provide good training to students from different populations because test scores affect the rating of educators. In this way, students achieve better results in developing basic skills. In particular, schools are required to have tests in math and reading; so, teachers intensively prepare students for examinations from these subjects. Supporters of standardized tests also say that federal requirements for tests in these disciplines encouraged schools to introduce tests for the rest of the subjects. Thus, struggling students receive better skills and knowledge in all areas. In addition, tests stimulate not only schools to teach well but also students to learn. Earlier, underserved students did not feel that could achieve something due to limited access to education. However, standardized testing improved this situation.
At the same time, other groups have numerous arguments against standardized testing. Even the U.S. President emphasizes that it is time to reduce the number of tests because teachers experience substantial pressure because of having to prepare students for tests (Layton). This factor takes the joy out of the educational process for learners and teachers. Apart from that, the President says that schools need strategic tests of high quality, which can determine the children’s progress in school and can help them to study (Layton).
The Council of the Great City Schools also claims that students take too many tests and these have inappropriate quality. The following statements are based on the organization’s study of standardized testing that found that a typical American student takes 112 obligatory standardized tests between pre-K and the twelfth grade (The Council of the Great City Schools 9). This number does not include tests created by teachers. The Council of the Great City Schools says that such a number of tests does not automatically mean that Americans receive an excellent education. To compare, most of the countries demonstrating better results on international examination tests as the US population require their students to take tests only 3 times at school (Layton). Apart from blaming the U.S. Department of Education and local governments for the number of tests, the agency stresses that testing organizations also have a negative impact on education. In particular, these companies actively encourage schools to use their tests. The U.S. Department of Education admits that the number of mandatory tests should be reduced because it negatively affects the quality of American education.
Moreover, the growth of the tests’ popularity caused opposition among parents, children and teachers. People opposing the tests united and started written protests against standardized testing. They specify that teachers have to waste too much time preparing for tests, so they do not have time for long-term projects and creative learning initiatives (Barseghian). However, parents do not blame schools for using tests because testing is necessary for receiving money from feral funds.
The Attitudes of the Sides to Each Other
The supporters of standardized tests agree with the arguments of the other side. For example, they admit that the American students have to take too many tests; so, their number could be minimized. They also agree that that the value of tests is questionable. Nonetheless, they still say that standardized testing is the only effective instrument of reducing the achievement gap between students from struggling families and their more privileged peers (Layton). The civil rights advocates blame the U.S. Department of Education and local governments for their negative impact on the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. To be more precise, the Act initially required students to take tests only in math and reading, but multiple organizations have added tests in other subjects. The Council of the Great City Schools, the President, and even the U.S. Department of Education agree with the ideas of the supporters of the standardized tests. Only opt-out parents are strongly against tests and think that the U.S. Department of Education is responsible for the situation because its policies encourage schools to increase the number of standardized tests.
Offerings of Interest Groups to People
The sides of the conflict do not ask for donations. They only persuade the public that their arguments are correct. In particular, Education Trust and other groups supporting standardized testing ask people to understand those annual assessments in the only effective ways of reducing the achievement gap (Layton). The U.S. Department of Education, the Council of the Great City Schools, and President Obama explain to people that standardized testing is a valuable instrument, but the amount and quality of tests should be modified. Opt-out-parents encourage other people to support them in their fight against testing because there are more effective ways of students’ evaluation.
The growth in the number of standardized tests in American schools has caused intense debates. The civil rights advocates support the tests as they believe that this tool helps to reduce the achievement gap between students from disadvantaged families and their more privileged peers. The U.S. Department of Education, Council of the Great City Schools, and President Obama generally support the idea of standardized testing, though they say that it is necessary to reduce the number of tests and improve their quality. The parents and teachers from the movement against standardized testing emphasize that it is more reasonable to use other evaluation methods.