Most of What You Know About Standardized Testing is False

Testing; If you are reading this right now, you either have — or have heard — an opinion on it:

— “Testing is bad.”

—  “Teachers are required to ‘teach to the test’, and that’s bad.”

— “We are testing our poor children to DEATH!!! ” (this one is very popular).

— “Our kids aren’t learning because everything is geared towards these   tests!”   (Huh?)

This last one sums up the currently predominant public opinion towards testing quite well, and it baffles me.

When did testing become a deterrent to learning? I’m no genius, but isn’t the act of giving a test still a viable method of finding out whether or not the student has learned the material? Doesn’t Harvard university still require its applicants to take a standardized test called the SAT? Don’t our state universities and colleges still require applicants to take a standardized test called the ACT? If institutions of higher learning consider these tests to be an acceptable method of finding out how much a student has learned, why should we, the taxpaying public, reject them in our determination of how well our K-12 students are learning?

Standardized tests are not perfect. A test is not, by any means, the end-all-be-all in the determination of whether or not a student has grasped a particular concept.

Indeed, it would be wonderful if, instead of the MCT , SATP, ACT and SAT, we could offer a different type of “test” for each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of K-12 students who will be tested in the coming weeks throughout Mississippi; each of whom was born with his or her own distinct learning mechanisms.

Such a method would be perfect, and I — a walking example of the fact that low test scores and low G.P.A.’s often do not equate to a “low” intellect  — shall be its loudest supporter should it ever come to fruition.

For now, however, it’s nice to know that I am just a few clicks away from determining a somewhat fair, yet imperfect, overall idea of how well my son’s peers, teachers and administrators are performing at the public elementary school he attends.

We often overlook the fact that our public schools are exclusive from private and parochial schools in that they are required by law to provide us, the taxpaying public, with some measure of how well our kids are learning and how well our teachers are teaching.

In addition to being held accountable, our public schools are exclusively, legally required to adopt the latest and most state-of-the-art curriculum, year-in and year-out. This curriculum is, in turn, taught throughout the school year and our students are then tested on it every Spring. The results of these tests are the measure by which we hold our schools accountable.

Perfect? No. A “deterrent to learning”? Hardly.




About The Public School Warrior

I am a product of Mississippi's public schools.
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5 Responses to Most of What You Know About Standardized Testing is False

  1. Becky Glover says:

    The important thing is that standardized tests measure what students need to know to be successful in the classroom & in life. Before that, the important thing is that the classroom curriculum is designed to teach what is measured on the standardized tests. And, in conjunction with that, the important thing is that the instruction is differentiated enough to engage all students in the learning process. If any of these important things is missing, learning does not take place. Learning is of the utmost importance. We don’t want schools to hinder or prevent learning . . . and, conversely, we don’t want schools to produce excellent test takers who are lacking in critical thinking skills. The more parents & citizens know about each of these things & how they make up the big picture, the more children will learn and the more conducive schools will become in the learning process.

    • Anon says:

      The problem though is that many of the tests (especially the PSAT ACT SAT etc) simply test the ability to take a test. Test prep courses (which now exist for the achievement tests as well) haven’t become a huge industry by teaching material but by teaching how to beat the test.

      • Anon,
        As I stated, the tests are imperfect. As for “beating the test”, are we to then
        believe that a student who scores well on the test merely “beat the test” and failed to grasp the concepts? Is it fair to our kids to think that way?

  2. Leta Palmiter says:

    LOVE IT! These tests continue to increase in difficulty. That is to say, “beating the test” simply isn’t an option. You can’t accidently do well. Yes there are those, especially in my field of special education, that do not show what they know on a test. There will be those who have learned far more than they can prove on a test. However, no child can do exceptionally better than what he or she is capable of. Therefore, perfect or not, if your public school has good test scores, then some excellent, differentiated, quality not quantity, instruction was taking place. It’s Teacher appreciation week. Tell someone you appreciate them. We might need it especially as we approach this TEST! I love what I do. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to educate your children.

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