Standardized Testing: What else can we do?

 

IMG_20150924_152224_181-1Photo from Janice G. Toland’s Teaching My Way To Insanity: 35 years in an institution . . . of learning

The beatings will continue until moral improves.

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has admitted that the current amount of standardized testing is causing too much stress. Unfortunately, the policymakers aren’t listening.

Teachers are pressed to increase test scores. With their job performances tied to students’ scores, anxiety and the temptation to teach-to-the-test increase. This severely dilutes teacher’s creativity, making educating less interesting for all involved.

Standardized testing takes up an enormous amount of time that could be better spent. The average teacher now reports spending about 30 percent of their work time on testing-related tasks, including preparing students, proctoring, and reviewing results of testing.

Students are tired of being tested. After a while, they don’t care anymore and give up. I’ve seen students overwhelmed by questions they have not yet covered in class that are included on the tests. A child should not suffer from stress-induced headaches and stomach pains.

Eventually, what may happen to our over-tested children is learned helplessness—what happens when people come to believe they have no control over their situation and that whatever they do is useless. This condition may be a root cause of students giving up.

The only ones benefiting from standardized testing are the test makers.

Test making is big business. Test sales in 1955 were $7 million (adjusted to 1998 dollars), that figure was $263 million in 1997, an increase of more than 3,000 percent. The business of test making and creating instructional support materials aligned to the Common Core Exams has become a 1.7 billion dollar business with the two largest vendors being Pearson Education based in New York and McGraw-Hill Education, also in New York, (A., Ujifusa, Education Week, November 2012).

Schools need to be held accountable, but other methods are available:

  • Give the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests in fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades.
  • Use the Gallup student poll, a 20-question survey that seeks to measure levels of hope, engagement and well-being. How a student feels about school relates directly to persistence.
  • Try video-game type assessments.
  • Use performance based assessment, projects, individual and group presentations, reports and papers and portfolios of work collected over time.
  • Presentations, performances and reports may be used in lieu of standardized tests. These are designed to measure higher-order skills like creativity, students’ well-being and technological literacy as well as traditional academics.

A world without bubble tests would be bliss.

Research provided by:

Learned Helplessness: Why Bother http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/helpless.htm

The Testing Industries Big Four http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/schools/testing/companies.html

Misguided Direction: Will Students Turn Their Backs on Education http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2015/02/misguided_direction_will_students_turn_their_backs_on_education.html

NEA Survey: Nearly Half of Teachers Consider Leaving Profession Due to Standardized Testing http://neatoday.org/2014/11/02/nea-survey-nearly-half-of-teachers-consider-leaving-profession-due-to-standardized-testing-2/

What Schools Could Use Instead Of Standardized Tests http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/01/06/371659141/what-schools-could-use-instead-of-standardized-tests

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