by Alison Yip
Students over the last decade have taken more tests than previous decades and in part, it’s thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act passed during the Bush Administration in 2001. Recently, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama commended this legislation for its contribution to a higher high school graduation rate based on data from 2013-2014. But, did this reform really help students? Does standardize testing improve a student’s academic standing? Or are we removing ourselves from the true idea of education? What do standardize tests measure?
There are multiple levels of standardized testing from local tests, state standardized tests like the SBAC and the old test, STAR, and national exams like the ACT, AP, IB, and SAT. We take progress tests from the district prior to taking the states test, which happens in the spring every year. SAT and ACT are taken as a measure of “college readiness” as a tool for colleges to measure how ready a student is for college based on their scores and percentile. AP and IB exams are taken when a student takes an Advance Placement class and want to obtain college credits used to skip certain General Education classes in college. These tests are supposedly supposed to measure the information retained and executed by a student and it’s supposed to be a measure of readiness for the next level of education.
However, I personally think these tests measure nothing but the idea of how to take a test,. They do not measure intelligence or a teacher’s effectiveness. Even the founder of the Princeton Review, John Katzman, a premier test preparation company calls the SAT, a national college readiness exam taken since the 1920’s, said, “The SAT is a scam” and it “measures nothing”. The SAT is a national test taken by students globally as a tool of college admittance and Katzman who writes books on how to beat the test denounces the test as useless. Education is more than knowing how to take a test; its about the process of learning itself and how we utilize what we learned to advance progress, not learning how to take mind numbing tests that are essentially meaningless.
Testing constantly is stress and anxiety producing because there is always the eminent threat where this test is also used not only as a measure for the government but a threat against you because it defines you and binds you to a percentile and a score. How will this help our future? How will my ability to pick A, B, C, D or E play a role in establishing myself as a productive member of society? Anyone can fill in bubble and it’s always a guaranteed 20-25% chance of being correct. It does not create thoughtful and reflective individuals but rather robots that can pick the right answer and fill it in.
We have lost this passion for education where learning has become a chore and going to school has become a repetitive cycle. Students are just going through the motions and aimlessly wandering into room after room to learn material dictated by what is on the test. What’s lost is the creativity, the passion from both teachers and students and the curiosity innate within us due to the education standards schools have adopted. There is no set measure for any student because we are subjects, we can evolve, think, and feel. And I feel that we are stuck in a rut; we’re stuck in a place in which our education has become an experiment. We are manipulated to mold to a certain standard and are measured by such standards that are completely objective and are written by people whom do not see personally the effects of their reforms. We are a number to them and they dictate our academic lives by this number we’re assigned. Many subjects we study have become meaningless because it was taught to prepare you for a test and not for the pure purpose of learning and enjoying the subject for its entirety.
Standardized testing reduces students to be a statistic, a number, a dot on some line whom someone would interpret and placed the student within a box. We have become the generations of test taking monkeys, where we learn the subject for the purpose of scoring well on an exam and forget the information shortly after. Standardized testing is not a means of measuring the education progress of America but it creates a dispassionate student who’s creativity is stifled and who’s highly stressed and anxious.