Research Argument: Standardized Testing Gets F

Submitted By robertjames83
Words: 1923
Pages: 8

Robert James
1 December 2014
Engl 101.2132
Essay 3: Research Argument
Standardized Testing Gets an ‘F’ Standardized testing seems pretty harmless. Straightforward, inexpensive, neat, fair. But students have grown so accustomed to taking multiple-choice tests to prove themselves that people don’t bother to question the tests’ validity. In truth, these tests are meritocratic tools that affect us all, from the day we enter kindergarten to when we might apply for college or a job. It is even a pervasive influence in the workplace. Ability is judged from meaningless tests of “aptitude,” regardless of proven ability to do the work, get the grades, or accomplish remarkable things. The results of such tests tell precious little about competence. They merely measure one’s ability to perform well on tests. As a college student, and aspiring teacher, I refuse to accept that this is the only way students can be evaluated. Young minds are active and eager, but these tests are boring and kill creativity. Each and every one of us learns in our own way, so why enforce a “standard” that encourages a crippled curriculum. Teachers have become little more than mouthpieces for their school boards, reduced to “teaching the test” in order to maintain some semblance of learning. If students perform poorly, that teacher is scrutinized for lack of performance. In the end, this results in a weakened classroom environment in which teachers are robotic and withdrawn and students are less invested in learning. No other nation tests as much as the United States. The politicization of education has been no help. Many worry that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and Common Core State Standards will perpetuate a culture of over-testing. Fortunately, parents, educators, and policymakers are beginning to understand that many have bought into a view that learning, teaching, and even intelligence can be indexed by a single yardstick. The New York City Council, for example, is backlashing against standardized testing, “saying a reliance on those tests is ‘undermining educational quality and equity in public schools’” (Bidwell para. 12). Simplistic thinking in which there are only right and wrong answers can be replaced and students and schools can be assessed by what they can actually do on activities that really matter. School curriculums that rely upon standardized tests limit students’ ability to think deeply and creatively and constrain teachers to a mechanical form of instruction. So to create a more effective learning environment, state school boards should adopt performance-based evaluations and allow teacher judgments based upon student observation. These needs have been translated by journalists, educators, and education-related field experts for years. Some, like Peter Sacks, truly understand the plight plaguing our schools. While he does not work in academia, his career in independent journalism has granted him unbiased insights into the troubles standardized testing has presented. With nearly three years of research under his belt, including testimonies from educators and testing experts, Sacks’ book Standardized Minds seeks to inform the public about the limitations and effects of testing where educators had failed. Sacks recommends “that true reform of our schools must include a revolution in the way we measure children and in the very meaning of what schooling should be” (3). His usage of the term “revolution” suggests a radical shift in the way we are currently assessing student performance. However, other experts, like Michelle Rhee, disagree with the anti-testing camp. An educator herself, Rhee professed that to prevent children from participating in state-mandated standardized tests is tantamount to social anarchy. In her Washington Post article “Opting Out of Standardized Tests? Wrong Answer,” Rhee thinks that parents are endangering the education process by keeping their children away from these tests. Parents are beginning to become