GLASSBORO – Teachers and administration alike are rethinking standardized testing due to the common idea that teachers are now “teaching to the test” and whether or not standardized testing can accurately assess every student’s achievements.
Since the No Child Left Behind Act, a law former President George W. Bush proposed only a few days after he took office in January 2001, the controversy of whether or not standardized testing is beneficial to students has been high on the priority list of teachers, students and parents alike.
Former President George W. Bush proposed the No Child Left Behind Act only a few days after he took office in January 2001. The law was eventually passed a year later. The passing of the No Child Left Behind Act meant that standardized tests were more important than they had ever been in the past. Schools were required to test students annually beginning in third grade and ending in eighth grade in order to evaluate their knowledge. These tests would contain a series of questions in the subject of both mathematics and reading. For example, a third grader may have to answer a question like:
Read the sentence:
i like to watch the cardinals fly back and forth.
Choose the correct way to write the sentence.
A) I like to watch the cardinals ﬂ y back and forth.
B) i like to watch the cardinals ﬂ y back and forth.
C) I like to watch the cardinals ﬂ y back and forth
D) i like to watch the Cardinals ﬂ y back and forth
The pattern below is missing a number.
2, 5, 8, 11, ____, 17
What number is missing in the pattern?
Schools who did not meet their state’s “adequate yearly progress” repeatedly would be subjected to outside corrective measures.
While these tests are required, not every teacher agrees that they are necessarily helpful to students. Cheryl Williams, 53, has been teaching mathematics for 23 years at the middle school and high school level and has been administering the SAT yearly. She has worked at school such as Oxford High School, Lighthouse Christian Academy, Bethany Christian School, and Solanco High School and is currently a substitute teacher. On the topic of standardized testing she feels that they aren’t for every student. “It is best to use classroom assessments,” said Williams, “not standardized testing.”
Experienced teachers aren’t the only ones concerned about whether or not standardized testing is for all students though. Education majors and future teachers have started to discuss whether or not standardized testing is actually beneficial to student or if it can accurately assess student’s achievements.
At Rowan University, education students have been discussing this in classes such as the characteristics of knowledge acquisition and human exceptionality. These classes explore the different ways students learn as well as different disabilities teachers may see in their classrooms.
Samantha Smith, 21, attends Rowan University and has taught students between the ages of five and 14 and is an individual counselor for children with special needs. Once a year her students take the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge, or NJASK, in order to assess their knowledge. According to Smith, student get “really worked up about the tests, and it negatively impacts their mental health and social interactions.” Smith has also noticed that due to the different abilities and paces students learn at, their scores do not always reflect all students’ knowledge and learning abilities.
Students have also started to notice the effects standardized testing have had not only on themselves but on their teachers as well. Linette Reeman, an 18-year-old senior at Communications High School in Belmar, New Jersey, has been taking standardized tests yearly for most of her academic career. Reeman feels that while standardized test can be useful for administrators in order to compare themselves to other schools and districts, the tests themselves only hinder students’ knowledge being that they are seeing the tests as additional stressors rather than useful assessments and being that all students have different learning styles and/or methods, the tests cannot be a fair or accurate assessment for all students.
“I feel that in an effort to keep up with state and national expectations of what a student ‘should’ know,” said Reeman, “schools are giving greater amounts of standardized testing not curtailed to any curriculum, but instead to an idea of efficiency.” Reeman said that this may be the reason teachers feel they are forced to “teach to the test” which may eliminate the “knowledge-seeking” and “curiosity-stemming” aspects that have made learning enticing for students.
Although there have been some changes to the No Left Behind Act, it is still in effect today and students are still required to take standardized tests on a regular basis, David Coleman accounted that the College Board would be redesigning the SAT. These changes will be made in order to be more accommodating to students who are unable to afford expensive SAT tutoring or preparation and instead focus on real-world applications of subjects students are tested in the existing SAT. For example, the current SAT will have a question such as
Knowledge cannot thrive where there is .
The reformed SAT would ask a question such as
[. . .] The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions. Some regions could end up bloated beyond the capacity of their infrastructure, while others struggle, their promise stymied by inadequate human or other resources.
As used in line 55, “intense” most nearly means
This is just one of the many changes to the SAT that will take place starting in 2016. Changes will also be made to the mathematics, essay, science and social science portions of the test. Students will not be penalized for wrong answers and instead will earn points for every question they answer correctly.
Possible Alternatives to Standardized Testing
Rather than standardized test the students, students could instead put together portfolios of their work to be assessed. These portfolios could be done in a way that would seem fun to a student, for example they can decorate the portfolio or the process of making the portfolio can be turned into a party. This will take away the stress element of the assessments and will make students look back at work they have done in the past and see how they have improved which will encourage students.
Rather than having students take the standardized tests, classrooms could instead have an observer come in to see how students are doing in the classroom. This will not only assess students but the teachers as well.
Spread Out Tests
Rather than having test occur over the course of a few days, tests could occur over the course of a week and be separated into portions. For example on a test day, the students could have a pre-test activity, then the test with breaks throughout, post-test activity, then a normal class day. While these activities may not make students look forward to test days, the activities would relieve stress on students.