An Argumentative Piece On Standardized Testing In Education System

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The average human being goes through approximately twelve years of school. During the large time span much is to be learned and gained in order to compete in the outside world. For example, some of the things learned are: development in language, reading, and writing. Advancement in mathematics. Knowledge of the past. And different types of sciences. All the meanwhile this knowledge is determined by tests and exams that evaluate a student to see whether or not he or she is “smart” enough. A study done by The Washington Post claims, “The average student in America's big-city public schools takes some 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and the end of 12th grade — an average of about eight a year.” Such a high number of tests suggest that the focus is a criteria that can evaluate students based on which of the five bubbles they can fill in and if not, they get it wrong. Standardized testing of evaluating students is no way of viewing the intelligence nor qualifying them for future grades and/or colleges.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, was signed on January 8, 2002, by President George W. Bush. It is the largest education-reform legislation since 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson passed his landmark Elementary Education Act. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was put into place to increase the role of government in guaranteeing the quality of public education for all children in the United States. It also has a major focus on increasing funds for poor school districts, higher achievement for poor and minority students, and new measures to hold schools accountable for their students' progress. In an article called, Education Legislation Overlooks the Neediest Students The Times Editorial Board assess the viewpoints of the No Child Left Behind Act against the viewpoints of the (ESSA) Every Student Succeeds Act. Students who attend mediocre schools are at a disadvantage, because standardized testing doesn’t fit to their needs. If a student struggles to learn and maintain the information which is provided in an inefficient way or not to their learning style, then a test of 60 or more questions certainly doesn't allow the student to progress. The article also supports how underperforming schools are in need of a plan from the education bill to help increase educational funding. In conclusion The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 isn’t completing what it was set out for, which is helping those in public education and increasing the funds for those schools to excel and create an optimal learning environment.

A New York case study in the fall of 2017 goes into further detail about Common Core (CCSS) and understanding how those standards are able to be tested on. Because of this, do those standards affect a classroom teacher and alter what he or she teaches? The main focus of the average student is, what can I do to get an A in the class and/or pass the common core exam? With such a focus, the attention of the teacher is what can I do to prepare my students for an A or common core program. The main purpose of why students go to school and why teachers teach is completely lost. It is trying to check the box rather than focusing outside the box and creating real growth. In general, this theme is emphasized in high schools over a 2-3 year time span, ranging from freshman year to junior year. The SAT and ACT are incorporated into this generalization as well. High-schools compete not to see the growth of their students but rather to see an increase in their API (Academic Performance Index) score. The main reason as to why students go to school, which is to learn and grow, is lost because the focus is no longer on the students. It’s on the test that will propel them into a desired grade or university.

The Common Core State Standards allow states to compare standardized test scores accurately. In the past, each individual state of the United States of America had its own set of standards and assessments. Stated by Aaron Churchill, journalist for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, “School practitioners use statewide test results to benchmark their students’ achievement across school and district lines”. This made it incredibly hard to compare and differentiate states with other states results. Today, this is no longer the case and rather they are all compared based off of the same assessment or an assessment that is similar. Parents are able to benefit from this system as well because they are able to measure how their child is doing with the majority of students in the district, state, and country. It makes comparability a lot easier and can inform not only the parent but the student as well, their progress. The Common Core testing also prepares a student for what college exams are like and outside global environments. A large motive for students to go through high school is for them to prepare themselves for college, which then prepares them for the real world. Taking tests and exams in general are part of life and will continue to be.

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Journalist, Rupert Walsh of Medium.com, wrote “Standardized exam data remains the best way to hold schools accountable for their academic performance.” Schools are able to view their progress or non progress through the data gathered from standardized testing. They are responsible for the scores they earn. Low-level, or underperforming scores are highlighted very easily and with the information that is accessible, intervention is possible to improve the state of a school and its students. Outside of the standardized testing system, there is no objective method of holding students accountable. If a school is doing well it can be rewarded, if it is not performing to where it should be it can be helped. Overall the data that is collected is used to help in many areas and ultimately improve schools and their academic performances.

The standardized exam data is an easy way to access information and act upon the data to improve a situation or make note of a schools success. But, what if the data provided isn’t the truth? What if the numbers that come through don’t really demonstrate the actual performance of a student? For some it could accurately position where the student is or what he/she has learned, for others its a number of facts and words memorized that doesn't exactly place the student in the correct category and truly nothing is learned. Another point of how standardized tests for accurate data is not completely true is that the data sets taken from these exams accounts for the majority, but doesn’t care for the needs of a struggling student. For example, if a latin student, whose first language is Spanish, performs badly in an advanced english class comprised of middle class caucasians, it is assumed that the majority of the class will do fairly well. Thus ruling out the latin student and concluding that the overall state of the class is progressing and understands the material. The academic well being of the latin student will be overlooked and not cared for.

The subject, standardized testing, has been around for over a hundred years and something has to change. The dull and stressful way of acknowledging certain subject matters has continued to push students away from learning and more into memorizing. Since the biennial test (established in the early 1990’s), which is called the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP, standardized scores have stagnated. In fact there has been statistics that show that scores have dipped on these nationwide exams and yet colleges are asking for more from students. Keeping this “culture” will only hurt kids and teenagers of America and around the world. For example, if a young boy or girl gets taught that the word purpose is spelled with a z rather than a s, he or she will continue to make the same error. Students who have to continue to take standardized tests and quizzes are feeding a similar error. They are not allowing for their fullest potential to shine. They are not allowing themselves to learn and grow which can be achieved in a better way.

The problem with taking away Standardized test-taking is what will replace it. The testing system has been in place for over a hundred years and we can’t just say “to hell with it,” and not have a backup plan. In the article, ”Opposition To Testing is Well Intentioned But Unorganized” it states that, “Suburban schools tend to be relatively high achieving and have historically done very well on state-level standardized tests, so there is no reason to believe that the new tests will produce dramatically different results.” Why would implementing a new method of testing or evaluating students change the scale of students academic performances? There is an old saying said by Bert Lance, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Jimmy Carter's 1977 administration, which is “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.” There has been no tangible evidence that standardized test taking hasn’t been effective when looking at data and holding students accountable for where they are in school and the learning process. The process of test/exam taking will hold its place until another method is proven to help students and hold them accountable for their learning. Standardized test-taking has been established and will take something that is proven to replace it.

School and the education system has always changed over time. For example, in 1969 a grammar teacher was added to improve reading and writing skills. In 1991 the sex-ed class is incorporated in highschools in a classroom of boys and girls. In 2002 white boards were introduced rather than traditional chalkboards. Learning is constantly advancing and becoming more than it has been in the past. Just in the last 10 years teaching has increased to new levels with the help of technology (teachthought.com). Access to the internet, overhead projectors, and so much more has allowed for a better learning environment. The phrase, “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it.” doesn’t apply to the education system because it is broken. In today’s society we measure students off of a number of questions that are represented by corresponding letters that they should know. There is no other evaluation, and at the end of the day the student is known by a percentage or a number and not his/her attributes and skills, not even his/her name. An answer to the problem would be catering to the needs of the students and evaluating them based on their learning styles.

“The biggest problem with standardized testing is that it seeks standardized answers.” Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallop Education, explains why standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT aren’t accounting for students knowledge. According to Busteed, “only 6% of superintendents strongly agree that SAT and ACT scores are the best predictors of college success.” Leaving a huge percentage disagreeing with what college exams do to showcase students. With such a small percentage in agreement for such examination, there is an overwhelming signal that the SAT and ACT are both not the answer. Like said earlier, students of today are better and need to be better than just a standardized answers. Creativity has been completely shut off and there seems to be no room for it. Holy Cross, a Jesuit college based in Worcester, Massachusetts, has put to the test of making the SAT and ACT optional and have found some stunning results. After three years of the option to take the exam or not, they have seen an increase in applicants as well as an increase in quality of the applicants that have applied. The overall idea is that the students are not judged just off the knowledge of one test, there are various areas that are tapped into and viewed by the college.

The SAT is the most widely used admissions test in the country. In combination with other data, such as a student’s grade-point average, college application essays, and test letters of recommendation, the SAT has proven to be valid, fair, and reliable data tool for college admissions. All of the available research supports it. Colleges throughout the nation use this form of testing to be able to identify who is capable of entering and succeeding possibly at their university. It is a great way to evaluate whether or not students understand levels of math, reading, and writing. As well as that it gives a general evaluation for all high-school students, that span from California to New York. It is not only what has been used but also has proven to be effective and practical.  

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