Online Editor Austin Schumann questions the efficiency of standardized tests in schools
Earlier this month 11 public school teachers in Atlanta, Ga. were arrested on racketeering charges. Racketeering, or organized criminal behavior, had the schoolteachers getting together to artificially inflate standardized test scores.
The teachers claim to have done it to satisfy federal benchmarks. If this statement is true then it shines a disturbing light on our education system.
Are the federal standards so high that teachers must improve students’ scores so they do not seem like the students have been under-taught? Is it simply that the teachers are not good at their job, or were students doing so poorly that it made the teacher look bad?
Regardless, it illustrates the point that maybe the standards are a little too high. If teachers are being pushed to cheat for their students just to get high enough grades then something needs to change.
When you look at test scores it is obvious that the U.S. does not stack up to other countries, but that does not mean that we are able to jump straight to the top of the list. We need to work our ways up gradually since the goal is to have smarter students, not higher test scores. If all the educational system focuses on is standardized tests and setting unreasonably high goals, students are just going to be stressed out and preform worse.
The problem is that America tries to raise all of their students at the same rate and this is not effective at all. George W. Busch’s “No Child Left Behind” program was a good idea in theory, but in the real world it does not have the same effect. The idea is to make sure that everyone understands the topic before moving on. That sounds nice except instead of everybody excelling together, it just slows down the students that already have a grasp on the subject and makes them wait until everyone knows what to do before they move on.
The obvious solution seems to be to do away with this program but what would be done instead? The U.S. should focus instead on getting students into the classes that they belong in and where the entire class will be able to learn at the correct pace. The next step is to take the focus off of standardized tests. The reasoning behind them is clear, but they are not a reliable way to test either the student’s skill or the teacher’s ability to test. Some students are simply bad test takers and get nervous when test time comes. There are some people who are very smart students but read slowly and get penalized on the timed tests. We as a nation can not let these people be thought of as less than they are simply because they do not test well, it is time to do away with the standardized test.