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Archive for April, 2010

How Standardized Testing Hurts Our Children

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

There has always been some debate about standardized testing and their benefits and disadvantages. A standardized test is one that is administered and graded in a consistent manner. Usually comprised of multiple choice or true and false questions, standardized testing doesn’t encourage critical thinking or anything more than simply repeating mindless facts. With the introduction of No Child Left Behind standardized testing has come under more fire for being too important to schools to the detriment of their students – our children.

NCLB set the standards by which schools needed to meet to keep their federal funding. These standards are a percentage of students that need to pass a standardized test. When a school knows that a certain percentage of their students must pass a test in order to ensure their funding, a great deal of importance is placed on that test. Curriculum given to teachers have the items that will be featured on the test in bold print so teachers will know what is most important to include in their lesson plans. And there is pressure to get all of that material at least introduced to the class by a certain date so if a student has trouble understanding something it mostly falls on the student to get help and catch up. Meanwhile other material not deemed “test worthy” may never be covered at all.

So with all this effort and importance given to these tests our children must be excelling right? Not really. While test score percentages on average have improved, they are still pretty pathetic. Also, as is common with standardized tests, retention of the information is poor. You simply can shove a bunch of information into a student’s brain, have then regurgitate the information on a test sheet and then expect them to have really learned the material. Rote memorization is not an effective way for a person to commit something to long-term memory. Rote memorization does not support authentic learning.

As parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles we need to start taking more of an interest in the pathetic state of our public educational system. We need to talk to our children’s teachers, principals, superintendents in order to get changes made. We need to join together with other parents to create a force to be reckoned with – to get the education that every single child in America deserves. Address your concerns to your representatives and local media. Something has to be done and changing the method of standardized testing is a good start.