Standardized Testing – Part of the American Education System

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The first standardized tests that we know of were given in China over 2,000 years ago. The subject matter included philosophy, farming, and even military tactics. Standardized testing continued to be used for the next 2000 years, and now they’re used for everything from determining one’s fitness, to how well you perform under timed and stressful situations, aka. every standardized test that most of us know too well. Some tests measure scores only in relation to the results of other test takers. Others measure how well test takers meet predetermined criteria.

Standardized testing has been a part of the American education system since the mid-1800s. They were used mostly after 2002 when the No Child Left Behind Act required yearly testing in every single state. US students fell from being ranked 18th in the world in math in 2000 to 40th in 2015, and from 14th to 25th in science and from 15th to 24th in reading. Failures in the education system have been blamed on the rising poverty levels, school councils, and increasingly, standardized testing. The No Child Left Behind act was passed with bipartisan support, meaning that both republicans and democrats agreed to pass this act.

The legislation required that annual testing in grades 3 through 8 and again in 10th grade. It also required 100% of students to be “proficient” on state reading and math tests by 2014, which many of the testing opponents deemed impossible. If schools did not show sufficient “Adequate yearly progress” those schools faced sanctions and the possibility of being taken over by the state or even shut down. During February of 2009, President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program was signed into law, inviting states to compete for $4.35 billion in extra funding based on the strength of their student test scores.

The results of state-mandated tests are not available until the following school year, offering no value to teachers who look to test results for guidance with course material. With so many mandated exams- each with varying goals- standardized tests don’t always paint a clear picture of a students true progress. Elementary school students experience higher levels of anxiety in relation to high stakes No Child Left Behind tests than classroom tests. States have even lowered the scores necessary for students to pass, increasing the number of “proficient” scores without demonstrating true student achievement with test scores.

Instead of standardized tests states could give a “portfolio-based assessment,” which measure student progress based on projects, presentations, reports, and papers collected over time. By the time this change may come, if it does come, we will probably be within our first few years of college or graduating. So even though changing standardized tests may not affect us, we should still seek to change the way they’re given for the sake of the younger generations that come after us.

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Standardized Testing – Part of the American Education System. (2020, Sep 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/standardized-testing-part-of-the-american-education-system/

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