Is Too Much Emphasis Being Put On Standardized Testing?

Standardized Test
The other day while scrolling through my endless news feed on Facebook, I came across a photo of Diane Ravitch, an educational policy analyst, with a statement in quotes that said, Bill Gates is wrong. American Education is not broken. Federal Education Policy is broken. Testing children until they cry is a bad idea. It is educational malpractice. The post made me stop and think about how different the education process is for my children than when I was young. There seems to be so much more emphasis on testing, statistics and ratings now.

My teachers and administrators focused on simpler things; teaching, socialization, life experiences (you know, the ones our parents DIDN'T shield us from, but rather let us learn lessons from) and, quite frankly, on LEARNING in general. Instead of focusing on things like integrity, improvement, effort levels and strengths & weaknesses, our children are being judged, their efforts are being patronized, and we are testing & comparing them to death. It seems like more of a process of compartmentalizing students than one of educating them.

When I was a kid, I dreaded standardized tests.... it all started with the SRA reading tests around 2nd grade, I think. The memory of those tests still makes me cringe and roll my eyes... so boring & monotonous, no excitement or creativity, WAY too much structure & focus required for my ever-spiraling head to enjoy.... but I tolerated, dealt with & generally did well on them.... It was not until I was a parent that I realized just how biased, limiting, stressful & ineffective standardized testing can be.

My son, at an early age, had a teacher who did not understand his lack of engagement, his frustration and insecurities, and therefore ignored his reading issues, creating a streak of complete lack of interest and distaste for school, in general. Because he had early reading issues, not only were his reading scores lower than average on OAA & other similar tests, but his math score suffered (you have to be able to READ a word problem in order to solve it, especially in a timely manner required by standardized timed testing) & all other scores were affected, too. Every year, during the week or more of OAA testing, my poor child would be a wreck; distracted, grumpy, crying every morning because he didn't want to go to school.

He would agonize over it, nervous and miserable and there was nothing I could do to ease his anxiety except listen to his worries and assure him repeatedly that as long as he did his best, I would be proud of him, no matter what his score. I knew he wasn't alone in this dreadful reaction to testing; test anxiety is a very real issue, but until the fourth grade when his teacher, an engaged, caring woman who truly cared about my SON and his issues more than she did about his scores stepped in and dealt with his anxiety rather than ignoring it. She helped him understand that, test scores aside, he was a smart, able, normal kid!

How can we generalize a childs intelligence into one tiny little box with one set of rules, standards & limitations? We encourage kids to be creative in their thinking, to try several ways of getting to the same answer, to learn by trial & error, hard work and experience but we want to judge their intelligence level by how well they test on a black/white, A/B, conformist scale! How can we judge & therefore limit our children like this?

We need to encourage our kids to learn, grow, share, succeed, fail & prosper throughout the entirety of their education. Putting them through anxiety, criticism, judgment, public rankings, etc. is cruel & ignorant. If we are going to use SEVERAL TEACHING METHODS to grow our childrens minds, we need to use SEVERAL TESTING METHODS to measure their successes or failures, getting a broader view of all the knowledge and brilliance their minds have processed! Let's quit setting our kids up for black or white success vs. failure and start ENCOURAGING LEARNING!

Written By: Julie W., United States.

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

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