Contemporary Issue PaperCorie JacksonCalifornia Baptist UniversityAbstractStandardized testing has had various impacts on our educational system, and is considered one of the most recent contemporary issues of our time. This form of testing began as an admission process to attend colleges or charter schools, then as an exit examination, then as a way for schools to measure students academic strengths and areas of improvement over the years while attending school. There have been various positive and negative impacts presented throughout the research, on both students and teachers. These impacts include: physical, emotional, and educational influences.
The controversy between the positive and negative effects of standardized testing. It is argued that the negative impacts outweigh the positives and has shown a need for adjustments on how we measure student abilities and understanding. These improvements needed are supported by evidence from journal articles, personal anecdote, and the history of standardized testing. Contemporary Issue PaperOver the years the educational system has faced various controversial issues, but the most recent one making a negative impact on students, is standardized testing. Standardized testing is a type of testing used to evaluate students academic abilities . It is a way to measure if standards are being met but does not provide a variation in the type of administration based on the students needs (Sacks, 2000). In other words, all children are provided these test to track their learning progress based on their grade level. Some believe this is the best way to measure students knowledge, others believe it is doing more harm than good, and I believe it is an unrealistic form of an academic evaluation.
Throughout this piece, I will evaluate the various aspects of education affected by standardized testing and how we, as educators, must take a stand for our students. First thing to remember, is how (that instead of how) standardized testing came (has been in the US) to be in the United States since the 1800(‘s). It was not until the late 19th century and early 20th century, when it became more of a widespread component of education.
It had been implemented into our educational system as a form of admissions processing into universities and charter schools or as high school exit examinations to ensure students met the requirements. Standardized testing was created with the goal of having a more consistent and generalized form of entrance and exit examinations for various stages of education (Sacks, 2000). Some of these forms of testing include: SAT, ACT, GED, STAR, CBEST, CSET, and many more ways to hold schools and students accountable.
Throughout the years, standardized testing has been known to cover various aspects of education such as, math, science, reading, and writing. One way it has been consistently implemented is by recording and measuring students subject knowledge during their educational journey but does not consider the various academic achievements unrelated to standardized tests. Although standardized testing was intended to be a step in the right direction for education, it also came with a lot of concerns. These concerns include: an intensive focus on curriculum, little to no room for creative projects, and it’s ineffective way of evaluating students and teachers (McNeil, 2000). As teachers are trying to prepare students for these extensive tests, there is not adequate time for creative projects. Creative projects are important outlets for students to express themselves outside of the norm of classroom assignments. For example, with standardized tests, students are provided with a set of predetermined answer choices, this in turn limits them.
Confining children to multiple choice options limits their ability to think critically because it does not provide them with the chance to question or research possible answer choices. These limitations can also be seen in different areas, as poor and ineffective ways to evaluate both students and teachers (Perrone, 2012). The evaluations provided by testing results adds pressures to perform well on standardized tests can lead to cheating, testing anxiety, or can cause teachers to stress testing preparation in hopes for positive results. Teachers often fear poor results because it can impact their teacher evaluation of inadequately preparing the students for the test. Often times, teachers are able to provide students with necessary information for the tests but it does not always mean the students will be fully prepared. Although, teachers are providing critical information it is still the student’s responsibility to seek extra support when they need further clarification. The students performance and motivation to learn are some of the variables out of the teachers or schools control. If a significant amount of students are performing poorly then it can affect the school as a whole.
The district may lose funding and find it necessary to cut electives or extracurricular activities when they do not have the findings needed (Perrone, 2012).There are limited intended outcomes regards to standardized testing such as, guidance and standards for teachers to follow for teachers to follow when preparing students for these tests. This allows teachers to have a better understanding on what concepts the students are struggling or excelling at. As a result of more guidance and standards, it has lead to less time wasted on topics the students understood and more time provided for more difficult topics. Standardized testing also provides a record of students scores from over the years, which shows if the child is improving, staying consistent, or having a significant decrease within their academics (Zitlow, & Kohn, 2001). As it records every students scores it, also creates additional documentation and comparisons in relationship to other students or local school districts testing scores.On the other hand, with standardized testing also comes various negative unintended consequences.
These consequences include: hand holding of students, teacher-centered curriculum, increased pressure, increased stress levels, and lack of genuine learning (Squire, & Gere, 2014). For instance, hand holding could be seen in very few teachers who teach what is on the test in fear or receiving bad scores. Instead of, providing the students with the knowledge and strategies to be successful. These increased pressure caused by scores affect both the students and the teachers because of the negative impacts that follow. Low testing scores could cause for bad evaluations, elimination of particular classes or decrease in funding for schools and teachers (Phelps, 2005). As for students, it creates increased stress levels to perform well on the standardized tests, which could negatively impact the child’s social, physical, emotional, and academic esteem. Research states, as these added pressures and stressors begin to take a toll on teachers and students it begins to affect the academics within the classroom.
Teachers will not provide an environment of genuine learning, which is essential for students motivation to learn and their creativity. Creativity is limited when teachers focus is more on the extensive standards that need to be covered for students to be successful rather than if the students are fully understanding the concepts (Squire, & Gere, 2014). Without creativity within the class, it does not give students a creative outlet to show what they have learned.Not only does standardized testing limit learning possibilities, but it also puts students of certain races at a disadvantage. For example, research shows how caucasians and asians receive significantly higher scores than latino and african american students. Findings also show the significant differences between students who are within a lower and higher income household (Dappen, Isernhagen, & Anderson, 2008). The differences between the scores can be prevented by seeking further instruction by the teacher or a tutor.
One of the down sides of a tutor is the cost, which may prevent students to get the necessary help because they are unable to afford it. Tutoring is another variable that schools and teachers do not have control of, is student preparation for these tests. The down side of these student variables is how poor scores will reflect on both the teacher and the school. As a result, these gaps found in racial and economic differences show the importance of how testing result should be used to support all students academically regardless of their background. As an illustration, I, myself, have never been the greatest test taker and have experienced a variety of these negative outcomes over the years due to the added pressure.
Most recently, I have taken the CBEST, which is a standardized test required to substitute within public schools and obtain a credential. The test covers basic academic topics such as math, reading, and writing. I had heard it was one of the easier standardized test I would be required to take as a graduate. Little did I know, was how hard I would study, to miss the required overall score by two points.
Yes, two points! I took it for a first, then a second, a third, and soon to be a fourth time. Each of these times I was faced with a camera to take my picture, a hand scanner, a small cubical, a quiet room, and multiple cameras watching me from every angle. These extra precautions the state takes to prevent cheating, causes test takers to have anxiety due to an unrealistic environment they are provided with. In addition, to the unrealistic testing environment there is also a lack of testing options, which only provides test takers with two options: computer based or paper based.
At first glance, it seems you can pick the one that best fits your preference but the testing date options for each tests vary. The computer based has more dates Monday thru Friday each month, whereas the paper based is every other month, once a month. This can cause a dilemma for those on a time frame, such as myself. I needed to retake my test as soon as I was able to and get my scores within the following two weeks too. I would of preferred to take the paper based so I could have physical forms to read and write on but due to my time frame the paper based was not an idealistic choice. Each of these scenarios, added additional stress, on top of the initial stress from the test itself.
With this in mind, I believe it is important for educational leaders to take action on making modifications to how we measure student knowledge and teacher performance. In order to make this possible, teachers need to provide students with various options for academic and personal growth outside of standardized testing. We must focus on the equity of education rather than, equality. Equality is making sure all students receive the same support, while equity is providing students with the tools needed to succeed at their own academic level (Sacks, 2000). With this being said, there has also been progress within some college application requirements, which now do not require students to submit their SAT scores. This adjustment has been made to accommodate the significant gaps related to testing abilities, income and race. Colleges are acknowledging the gap and using other forms of academic measurements to provide all students with a fair chance to be accepted into the school.
They are evaluating students academic achievements rather than, solely focusing on standardized testing results. For example, a student may apply to colleges with a 4.0 GPA and poor SAT score, which does not mean they are not knowledgeable of the contect. It just shows how schools need to do further examination of student knowledge and to rely on the results of the SAT.
Being able to consider all aspects of students educational achievements will help schools, teachers, and districts have a more balanced approach when measuring academic abilities and understanding (Zitlow, & Kohn, 2001). In the end, after further examination of the positive and negative impacts of standardized testing, it has been determined the negative impact outweighs the positives. The abundance of evidence should be used to make necessary changes to educational assessments in order to successfully prepare our students for the future. If no other significant adjustments are made throughout the education system, regarding academic assessments, then we as educators must minimize the negative impacts it has on our students. We need to consider how every student is different and they should not be expected to conform to learning strategies that do not fit their learning styles. In other words, teachers need to be willing to support students by providing various learning strategies based off students academic needs.
The students are the future, and it is up to educators to take a stand.