December 8, 2014
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“Part of my salary relies on how well 5 and 6-year-olds test,” quoted Jani Judson, a Jefferson County kindergarten teacher. Welcome to the truth of standardized tests. The subject of standardized tests has always been very controversial, where students dread it, the school board supports it, and teachers can not voice much opinion–nothing new. What is rarely addressed is how faulty these tests are to students and how extremely unfair it is to teachers. The school board has built a big, solid, stop sign for this topic to be discussed and there has not been a instruction to pass the stop sign completing this session.
Standardized tests happen one certain time period out of the entire year. A measly couple of days out of the school year. Troubles at home, bad night sleep, hormonal drama, or even what a student eats at breakfast can affect what that student is permanently labeled for everything he/she has done throughout the year.
Even worse, it affects the teachers more. A section of a teacher’s salary relies on how well their students can pencil in dots for a full hour. Do not sweat it though, the board at least encourages the students to eat breakfast and an attached late start. With that much integrity–how dare scientists say superheroes don’t exist.
In addition, students not only feel stressed, but not trusted. Standardized testing prep has almost become like airport security; soon a scanner will be placed to check for phones and pencils that are not #2. Except after airport security, follows a traveling to a new journey of sorts–whereas after standardized test security, follows a chorus line of a teachers breathing down necks and students with cramping hands. Bon Voyage.
Also many fail to mention, how impossible it is to ask 12 grades, countywide, to all complete the same tests and have it prove how solid those schools are. To illustrate the ridiculousness; imagine a monkey, a fish, and a tyrannosaurus rex, all asked to climb a tree. They all expected to reach the top–and if they can not, well they obviously were not taught right. This form of testing only shows performance and memory. What a stellar student that monkey is, scoring advanced. Yikes, who taught tyrannosaurus rex? He could not even get to the first branch! T-rex was lucky he scored even partially proficient. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” said by the one and only “trouble child” himself, Albert Einstein. Studies have proven, 40% of students will score an average to a below average grade on the test, but that child could fit in the advanced column in the skill sets not tested. As in improvement, interaction with new data, even basic thinking-outside-of-the-box skills. Those skills if not practiced will began weakening. It doesnot help that teachers are forced to strictly follow the exact curriculum, so strict to the point where teachers do not have room in the year to personally teach how to apply what they learned into the real world. Wait a second, is school not originally to prepare students for their future? How ironic.
Notably, a majority of our world’s geniuses, did not do well in school nor tested to be considered “above average” or even “average” for that matter. Steve Jobs, a “drop out”, his teachers considered him to go no where in life. Albert Einstein considered troubled and disconnected since the 3rd grade. William Shakespeare received little to no education. Standardized testing is not needed to prove who is “smarter”. Abraham Lincoln with about five years of schooling definitely did not need a percentile and a 60 minute period to prove he was a leader. All these famous figures thought outside the box and were self-taught. There is no demand in standard tests to be successful in life.
Students go through about one fourth of their life in an environment that does not encourage them to think different, to come up with their own strategies. How often is it heard for teachers to say, “Write it down in any format,” over “You will be marked down for not writing it in this style.” Math, science, world history, and even English classes are focused around learning a certain method to an equation, a specific way to respond to literature, especially in science–kids are taught and tested on what theories to study and memorize. Because that’s what’s on the test, because that’s what makes you smart–right?
According to Pro-Con.org, standardized tests are inclusive and non-discriminatory because they ensure content is equivalent for all students. In a country built off of individuality, this testing was specifically wanting kids to think and answer questions all the same. For students around the nation and world even, to think and learn the material the board puts in their head. There’s only one right answer with one right way to do it. Because, that is exactly how Benjamin Franklin found electricity, how Thomas Edison created the light bulb, and how The Wright Brothers discovered flight. They all probably ate excellent breakfasts before they aced their standardized tests and knew how to number two pencil the heck out of every question. I might as well start eating my words.
Call it crazy, but what if the board lets teachers talk. No doubt they obviously do their job for the money, (yeah right). But what if the teachers have a voice to speak for how well the students know the material. About how high their problem solving skills are, or how their creative thinking develops throughout the year. That could create teachers to look at students individually and specifically–which can also create a trusting bond between the student and teacher. Instead of a student’s percentile being based off how many questions they answer wrong, what if it’s based off the methods students try, how they try to solve it, and how well it worked? If these tests are continued on this road the board is taking, imagine how harmful it will be to this generation. What if another student among the attendance list is the next Albert Einstein? And that student’s told they are thinking off track, that they are thinking the wrong way. What if this system is creating a new generation of citizens who only reach for the possible and practical? But what if this generation can become so much more?