The school system in the United States
Standardized testing has for so long been the determinant of success and progress in many school systems around the world. Students get exposure to standardized tests at one point or the other, and the result from these tests are used to determine if a student can advance to a higher level or not (Moore, 2014). The school system in the United States has in place standardized tests for students who wish to join college and these need to be taken and passed for one to be sure of a college education. Even at lower levels of learning standardized tests remain to be the primary determinants of one's performances, and in many instances, failure of standardized tests may be the reason why one is retained in the same class for a second consecutive year (Moore, 2014). The question however remains, are standardized test determinants of a good education?
To answer the question, the paper looks at the various advantages and disadvantages of standardized test and identifies whether these tests do more harm than good for the student, the teacher and the school systems at large (Moore, 2014). Despite the controversy surrounding the use of standardized tests in schools, they have numerous advantages to all parties involved. One advantage is that the tests hold teachers and school systems accountable. It is required that by the time students undertake any form of standardized test the teachers and schools should have taught the students everything they need to handle the test (William, 2010). Many of the scores are often made public, and results that are not as expected will place the teacher and the school under significant scrutiny. There are instances where those teachers whose classes perform well on these tests get rewards for their work. Therefore, such measures will ensure that educators and schools teach students everything they need to know for them to do well on the tests. They also act as a form of guideline on what to teach to the students and when to teach. In this case teachers, students and schools will have simplified instruction time and manage their time well.
Standardized tests provide insight for parents into how their children are going to school. After every standardized test students often present report cards to their parents for them to check the progress of their children (Knoester, & Au, 2017). It, therefore, helps the parents to identify whether their children are doing well and where adjustments need to be made. It also acts as a form of comparison for parents especially when comparing their child to other children in local schools and those at the national level. It also allows for comparison nationally for the schools. For example, in Texas, every public school is exposed to a similar standardized test (Knoester, & Au, 2017). Such instances provide opportunities for students, teachers, and schools to be awarded at the national level by how they perform on such standardized tests. It also means that students from Dallas can be compared to their counterparts in Amarillo and check on the progress of the schools.
Standardized testing ensures objectivity especially when teachers are awarding marks to the students. The tests often have a standardized scoring system which means that the issue of subjectivity is eliminated by the standardized system (Knoester, & Au, 2017). Therefore, students will be awarded the grades they deserve and therefore understand where they are regarding performance. These tests will eliminate any form of bias that may occur especially when marking and awarding grades.
It is evident that standardized tests have many advantages to students, teachers, and schools. However, these types of tests hold various disadvantages. Standardized tests will only examine the student on one aspect which is academics (William, 2010). They often do not put other factors into consideration. The standardized tests often make the student anxious and therefore their anxiety will affect how the perform in their exams. Other stressing factors may affect how a student performs on a standardized test. For example, a student may have an argument with his or her parent the morning before taking the test, and it will act as a stressing factor towards the comfortability of the student during the test. Therefore, during the test, the student's focus will be on what happened at home other than the test. The student may also be physically or psychologically ill, and thus his or her overall output is affected (William, 2010). It means that different factors will affect how the student takes the test and how the student performs.
Education system in the United States
Due to accountability on the part of teachers, standardized tests will force them to only teach for the test. It means that what the students are taught in class only satisfy what will come on the standardized test (Scogin, Kruger, Jekkals, & Steinfeldt, 2017). Therefore, the practice will limit the overall learning scope of the student because he or she is restricted to a small percentage of knowledge when the student can get more from the teaching and learning process. The current education system in the United States continues to set higher standards for the teachers which mean that their focus will remain on teaching what will be in the tests rather than knowledge that will benefit the student holistically (Scogin et al., 2017). Therefore, such a practice limits the creativity in the classroom and makes the entire learning process disinteresting. The complete focus on standardized tests means that students miss the chance to gain essential skills that may not necessarily be part of the standardized tests.
Standardized tests will often evaluate the student's academic performs and not the overall growth of the individual over the course of the learning year. The education system in the United States has the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) which only focuses on the proficiency of the student at the time he or she is taking the standardized test (Knoester, & Au, 2017). It, therefore, acts as a disservice to the student who has grown in different aspects because the test will only focus on the student's memory. In many instances, the tests act as a source of stress for both the student and the teacher and if one does not perform as expected the learning process is interfered with.
It is clear that standardized tests play an essential role in the current education system in the United States. They play important roles for example accountability from the teachers which may not come about without the standardized tests. These tests only focus on improving one aspect of the student while ignoring the rest. It is, therefore, necessary for the American education system to incorporate other forms of evaluation for schools. The system can retain the standardized tests to ensure that students put the needed effort on academics, but they can also evaluate students on their performance on extra-curricular activities to make sure that the students can develop socially and cognitively.
Knoester, M., & Au, W. (2017). Standardized testing and school segregation: like tinder for fire?. Race Ethnicity and Education, 20(1), 1-14.
Moore, B. L. (2014). The Failings of High School English Education: What Standardized Testing has done to the Classroom.
Scogin, S. C., Kruger, C. J., Jekkals, R. E., & Steinfeldt, C. (2017). Learning by Experience in a Standardized Testing Culture: Investigation of a Middle School Experiential Learning Program. Journal of Experiential Education, 40(1), 39-57.
Wiliam, D. (2010). Standardized testing and school accountability. Educational Psychologist, 45(2), 107-122.
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