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Is Standardized Testing Truly the Way to Go?
On April 14, 2015 155,000 students attending New York State schools boycotted their mandated test. One parent said, “I see no compelling evidence this is a fair and accurate way to assess children or teachers. All this emphasis on testing actually interferes with meaningful learning and assessment” (LISA). However, this was completely wrong. It has been proven that standardized tests are beneficial and helpful. And the other thousands of parents that also believed tests were inaccurate and useless were misled. More people are taking a side either against or with standardized testing. However, in many cases it has been shown that standardized testing being the most beneficial and efficient way to test a child's progress. This is due to the fact that testing is the most reliable way to test a student's progress, has a positive on not only the students, but others, and is inclusive and non-discriminating content is the same for all students.
Standardized testing is one of the most reliable ways to test a student progress. Due to this fact, civil right advocates believe that tests are helpful. The advocates even wanted to push standardized tests as a civil right. “Civil rights advocates, in turn, argue that the tests provide data essential to understanding the magnitude of the gap in student performance and highlighting the need to fix it”(Layton). This information makes us rethink if testing is an unreliable way of to assess children. From this quote it is clearly shown that test data is quite reliable that they use it, above grades to understand the gap in student performance. “They also measure students' readiness for success in education and the workplace beyond high school”(Bobb). In addition to measuring the current gap in student performance standardized testing is also able to measure a student's’ readiness for tasks in the real world. “‘Removing the requirement for annual testing would be a devastating step backward, for it is very hard to make sure our education system is serving every child well when we don't have reliable, comparable achievement data on every child every year,’ Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust” (Layton). Finally, this quote by the president of the Education Trust – a non-profit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement - proves that testing is a reliable way of testing and data. If we removed testing there would be no reliable way to test a student achievement. Therefore, testing is the most reliable way to test a child’s progress.
Also testing has a positive effect on not only the students but the schools and the parents. “Unlike previous tests, PARCC assesses skills most important to 21st-century success, such as clear communication, critical thinking and problem solving. It provides parents and teachers meaningful feedback about students' performance, crucial to building each child's strengths and addressing specific areas of academic challenges”(Bobb). From this we know that standardized tests like PARCC provides both parents and teachers with critical information that can aid them in helping the child. “Testing also remains popular with the public. In 2012, the journal Education Next asked a cross section of the American public whether "the federal government [should] ... require that all students be tested in math and reading each year in grades 3-8 and once in high school." More than 80% of those surveyed/ responded favorably. In 2014, Education Next asked the public whether it supported "standards for reading and math that are the same across the states [and] will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance." Only 16% opposed the idea”(Peterson). From this quote we can understand that even the public finds testing beneficial and almost all share the same ideals on testing. Also, testing is beneficial to the students: “Still, they can - and do - help diagnose how far behind those children Orfield worries about might be, and they often aid in the development of an appropriate prescription for improving their potential success”(Bobb). This shows how testing can help the students by seeing which areas they need improvement on and then prescribing them with the proper aid. Finally, the school is always able to find which teachers do well at teaching and which teachers are not as good. “Most evaluations of teachers are based on performance over several years. And when former Washington, D.C., school superintendent Michelle Rhee put into place a performance-based pay plan that dismissed the weakest teachers and paid the best ones six-digit salaries, test scores soared”(Peterson). As it is shown, the school became better when teachers focused more on teaching and had goals after standardized testing became a priority. Hence, standardized testing has a positive effect on not only the students but also the schools and the parents.
Lastly, standardized tests are inclusive and non-discriminant. In the current times, being politically correct is such an important task. If and when people discriminate against others even if none intentionally they are susceptible to being rude and harsh. However, standardized tests are able to avoid this by including all groups of people. “But civil rights advocates don't trust states to pay attention to disadvantaged children if they aren't required by federal law to test and make public the scores of blacks, Hispanics, students with disabilities and English-language learners”(Layton). This is a quite important fact because it states the fact that they aren’t required to test and make public scores of the minorities. That means the test does not discriminate against any certain race or disability. “Despite the view that there is too much standardized testing, a majority of respondents said parents should not excuse their children from tests. A majority also said they think test scores are "somewhat important" in judging the effectiveness of their local schools”(Layton). Even though this quote may seem to contradict my point that tests don’t discriminate or judge against others, it does not. This quote declares that students themselves are never punished for their test results. Instead it is believed that the school has failed to teach the child. With this mentality it is impossible for the tests to discriminate against anyone. Finally, even if standardized tests are graded in their own format, they still do not discriminate against any group of people. “Before the grading process began, Parcc convened a group of educators from participating states to set five performance levels. Students scoring at the lowest level "did not yet meet expectations, ‘according to the Parcc designations, while those at the highest level "exceeded expectations’”(Rich). Finally, this last quote affirms that even if they do grade children by putting some on the lowest and highest level they still never discriminate against a certain group in particular. This is due to the fact that this whole process is close to anonymous. When they take data from a test book they only really want the raw score, not the name, not the race, nothing but the score. Thus, standardized testing is inclusive and non-discriminant.
Although, standardized testing is clearly positive, there are still people who disagree with testing. “A majority of respondents - 64 percent - said too much emphasis has been placed on testing, and a majority also said the best way to measure the success of a school is not through tests but by whether students are engaged and feel hopeful about the future”(Layton). Albeit this is true, it does not necessarily follow that those respondents are students and or teachers. For that reason they could not understand how students feel about testing. Also, testing helps benefit the child in school as much as it also measures their progress. “In a rebuttal to those who say states should use common tests so that the public can compare how students perform across state boundaries, fewer than one in five public school parents said it was important to know how children in their communities performed on standardized tests compared with students in other districts, states or countries”(Layton). Although I grant that parents may not care about their child’s performance, I still maintain that there is still someone who does -such as their teacher- or will find this information important. “Testing critics say the lack of significant improvement among economically disadvantaged minority students - despite years of standardized testing - proves that tests do little to close the achievement gap”(Bobb). Despite the fact that tests do little to close the achievement gap, testing still helps to measure this gap and find places that can be improved. Ergo, even if there may be a downside to standardized testing, there will always still be a better reason that testing should be kept.
Therefore, standardized testing is the most beneficial and efficient way to test a child's progress. While those 155,000 kids who boycotted testing believed they were doing something helpful, were really doing nothing helpful in any way. This is because testing is the most reliable way to test a student's progress, has a positive on not only the students, but others, and is inclusive and non-discriminating for all students. If you also want to take a stand and support standard testing you simply have to convince others to also believe in standardized testing.
LISA L. COLANGELO, BILL HUTCHINSON, CORKY SIEMASZKO, “Thousands of
students opt out of state mandated English Language Arts exam as families from Brooklyn to Buffalo boycott tests” New York Daily News,
DAILY NEWS, 14 April 2015, Web. 6 December 2015
Layton, Lyndsey. "Mandated Tests Pushed As Civil Right for Children." Washington Post. 11
Apr. 2015: A.1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
Bobb, Robert C. "Standardized Tests Can Help Combat Inequity." Washington Post. 30 Aug.
2015: A.17. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
Peterson, Paul E. "Why School Tests Work." Los Angeles Times. 24 Feb. 2015: A.13. SIRS
Issues Researcher. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
Rich, Motoko. "Test Scores Under Common Core Show 'Proficient' Varies by State." New York
Times. 07 Oct. 2015: A.1. SIRS Issues Researcher.Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
Layton, Lyndsey. "Testing Isn't the Right Focus for Schools, Poll Indicates." Washington Post.
24 Aug. 2015: A.3. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 13 Nov. 2015