How should education be defined? Perhaps a better question would be: should a single standardized test be considered the sole reference as to whether a student has really learned anything through the different approaches to learning that educators employ in a specific learning environment? Can anyone ascertain an individual’s level of mastery by merely assessing his knowledge using a standardized testing method in any of these areas: basic skills, academics, technical—or should there be more than that?
Considering that most people would confer scholastic basics to be aptly given more significance than the application of acquired learning since the former is more quantifiable, would make one’s position in support for a standardized testing method more acceptable. In such case, how then should one’s level of mastery in other areas (using inspiration, visionary ambitions, creativity, risk, ability to bounce back from failure, motivation) be gauged? Most education institutions don’t consider these skills since these skills are associated with understanding the value or application of knowledge.
Testing is necessary tool in gauging a student’s subject mastery level and as far as the 1930’s standardized testing has been employed in most schools. It’s the most preferred form perhaps either because it’s the best or it’s less stressful to evaluate since there is a uniform answer that is considered for most of the questions. Nonetheless, if one would look at it objectively, it becomes clear that it is neither. I share the same sentiments of those who think that standardized testing has both its pros and cons, hence when used effectively may serve a vital role in bettering the education of our students.
Consequently, one of the considerations is using the results appropriately. How and why standardized testing should be viewed as such and what alternatives one may consider in place of this testing method would then be the focus of this speech. Mike Smith (2009) describes standardized testing method as: …a test given under specific, uniform conditions…The test questions are carefully crafted, aimed at discovering how much progress a child has made in his schoolwork and whether specific educational objectives have been met.
Answering questions correctly signifies that a child is knowledgeable about a particular topic that is taught in a particular grade. Tests are scored by comparing them to what the average children of the same age and grade scored when the test was created. Scores are usually reported in percentile rank. A 68% does not mean the child answered 68% of the questions correctly. It means that means that the child did as well as or better than 68% of the other children who take the test. Traditional classroom environment focuses on the collection of knowledge without a clear purpose, other than high-class grades.
The typical student may well be considered as academically-challenged while being motivationally-starved since then there is nothing to process outside of memorizing answers for test. What then is education? Perhaps “all” the variables mentioned in the opening paragraph and more. This sounds good and may seem ideally acceptable but \”all\” is not possible if application of acquired knowledge or performance must be measured as well. Only what can be measured will be selected and the measuring tool is the written test.
Anyone who does not have the ability to put clear thoughts on paper is labeled a failure. All natural skills, including knowledge processing, does not count. The fact is, what is exercised grows stronger, what is ignored stays dormant. The classroom exercises the collection of academics, leaving all other natural skills in the closet. Test does not really gauge one’s intelligence level or ability: it does not measure how the mind processes information, how motivating experiences develop persistence, or how the mind sorts out instincts, opinions, evaluations, possibilities, alternatives.
Knowledge by itself has no value, it is like a dictionary filled with words. Words by themselves have no value, it is the process of stringing them together that gives them value. Knowledge only has value when used with a process and process in an artificial environment is not predictable or measurable. Consider those super achievers who never finished grade school. Nonetheless, they succeeded because they knew how to research, collect information for a selected project and process knowledge.
Take for instance Zuckerberg, one of those who introduced the Facebook, a new model of social interaction (Tapscott 55); Jade Raymond who begun developing softwares at age 14 and became project director for Assassin’s Creed, a game released in November 2007 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles (Ibid 60); Bram Cohen, who wrote a groundbreaking program called BitTorrent at age 32 and who has been described as have been coding since around five years old (Seabrook, 2008); or Bill Gates and many other cyber multi-millionaires who have made it to the top even without graduating with flying colors?
How then should their achievements be marked or graded? Self-made millionaires are not \”A\” students in the classroom. The way they process knowledge is in conflict with classroom priorities. The self-made millionaire has a vision, then he researches specific knowledge, applies intuitive knowledge and process all the elements, searching for a workable solution. Finding alternative ways to do common tasks makes millionaires. The secret is vision, research and processing, not pre stored knowledge. Pros of Standardized Testing: 1. It guides teachers as to what they must teach their students;
2. It gives parents an idea how their children are doing compared with others across the country; 3. It allows easy tracking of student’s progress over indefinite periods; and 4. It may provide an accurate comparison across groups. On the other hand, standardized testing likewise poses a great problem to the future of education and of the children in these aspects: 1. It may be a source of stress to students who may consider themselves not to be of equal standing with other students or other schools who have faired well in a particular exam; 2.
Teachers may end up teaching to meet the learning mastery implied in a specific test thus making the learning process more of a burden rather than a joyful journey; 3. Other students may resort to irrational actions (i. e. ) cheating just to meet the requirements of the standardized testing. 4. It does not necessarily indicate a student’s mastery level (A 68% does not mean the child answered 68% of the questions correctly. It means that means that the child did as well as or better than 68% of the other children who take the test, Smith, Ibid).
Considering all these, educators as well as parents should consider alternative tools to measure a student’s over-all performance in school. In this connection, Peterson and Neill explain how: 1. Portfolio-based assessment. Students will reflect on specific work and will be evaluated based on an agreed-upon assessment guidelines; 2. Performance exams (i. e. in writing classes, students may be asked to create their own stories; in theater, to stage a short play; in arts, create an exhibit; etc) 3. Conduct a school quality review.
These alternatives are far from simple to be implemented and it may take a while before parents and students will get used to these methods, but sooner or later it will pay off. Now, what can be considered a quality education? Taking into account what have been previously mentioned, a quality education should address the unique abilities of each student and has a positive emotional experience. Inclusive of this customization, are the tools that would measure a student’s mastery level of a particular subject matter. Standardized testing is an option but not the sole solution. References: Peterson, Bob and Neill, Monty.
“Alternatives to Standardized Tests,” Retrieved April 09, 2009 from Re-thinking Schools. Org: http://www. rethinkingschools. org/archive/13_03/assess. shtml Seabrook, Andrea. (March 30, 2008). “The Young Genius Behind BitTorrent,” Retrieved April 09, 2009 from the National Public Radio Website: http://www. npr. org/templates/story/story. php? storyId=89225415 Smith, Mike. “What is Standardized Testing? ” Retrieved April 09, 2009 from Homeschool’s Heartbeat Website:http://www. hslda. org/docs/hshb/40/hshb4031. asp Tapscott, Don. (c. 2009) Grown Up Digital, How the World Is Changing Your World. USA: Mc
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