Standardized Tests Should Be Eliminated

Categories: Education Issues

Should standardized exams eliminated from academics? Standardized exams are conducted after a certain interval of time for each grade and given to all the students irrespective of their performance during the study session. A similar paper of a defined academic level is administered to all of the class simultaneously. The students are given a defined time to complete the paper and their grades for the study session are based on these exams.

Their performance during the study session holds little to no value.

All students are put through similar exams starting from early grades. Standardized tests should be eliminated from kindergarten through university. Such standardized exams have always been a source of controversy in the field of academics. Many people argue about the effectiveness of these exams in determining the learning capabilities of individual students in a broad classroom.

How can a single standard be used to define grades when every student has a different intellect level and learning capability? Such controversies surrounding standardized exams have forced academic decision-makers in certain countries to abolish them and use alternate means to assess learning and grade students.

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However, standardized exams continue to exist in numerous nations and continue to serve as a tool to grade students. Issues with Standardized Exams Standardized exams are created by educationists who are very talented in their respective fields of education.

They do not have any contact with the students who would be required to work on these exams. They are unaware of the capabilities of the teachers working with the students.

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They also do not have any knowledge of the level of intellect of the students in the classrooms. The same tests are administered to a large range of schools in a certain region. The creators are experts in their respective fields and design the paper ignoring all of these factors. One reason why such standardized exams should not be used is that they do not serve as a valid tool to measure the quality of education.

They are not designed in a manner to judge the quality of education being administered to the students (Koretz).On the other side, author Nixon mentioned: “Scores don’t provide a true picture of a student’s ability”. Many people believe that standardized testing data gives a neutral authoritative assessment of a child’s intellectual ability. Cultural factors, unfamiliarity with testing systems, test anxiety, and illness can wreak destruction with how well a student performs. For that reason, it’s necessary to dig deeper when viewing a student’s test scores. Does a low score indicates a lack of knowledge about the subject or a problem with taking the standardized test?

For example, an outstanding writer could struggle with picking out the right answer in a multiple-choice grammar and punctuation test. Yet that same student could shine at creating well-thought-out, logical essays about the literature they read and enjoyed in class. According to The Economist (2014), the United States stands 14th in educational performance among developed countries in 2014, far behind the top five – South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Finland. Other countries have been investing and innovating while the United States has lagged in these areas.

More particularly, the US high school graduation rate ranks 21st, much lower than the top five – Portugal, Slovenia, Finland, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The United States is ranked 48th in the quality of math and science learning. Many studies of high-performing education systems during the world have all concluded that there are three general features for successful systems. First, the quality of the system is directly dependent on the quality of the teachers.

While in most high-performing systems, teachers are pulled from the top tier of university graduates and are accredited in the subjects they teach, studies in the United States show quite the opposite. Graduate schools in the United States typically represent the lower third of college candidates in terms of academic performance. Many math and science teachers in the United States are not accredited in the subjects they teach. In contrast, teachers in the public K-12 system are usually required to have a teaching credential awarded from a school of education.

The system biases upon top performing university graduates except for those students specifically choose to enroll in a school of education and compete for the education degree requirements. The second factor key to the success of any education system is the high expectation level placed on both curricula and tests. “There are many examples of internationally benchmarked exams given around the world (NAEP, PISA, Cambridge, etc.), and many high performing countries base their classroom study and tests on these measures of success.” In the United States, there have been two reasons why this has not been the case.

First education is locally controlled in the United States, with more than 15,000 locally controlled school districts. (Pate-Cornell and Rouse) Each of these districts controls the curriculum, and often, it is set at the lowest common denominator to support the slower learning students. Also, measures of success are often contrasted with other local school districts and not with international standards of performance.

As a result, US children compare poorly on the national scale of success, with only about one-third being ranked proficient by NAEP standards. The third characteristic of high-performing education systems is something called tension. The tension comes in different forms and can generally described as pressure or competition from for better performance. Or it can come from local competition from non-traditional public schools (charter schools) or private schools that break the monopoly of the standard public school system and give children and parents a choice in which school to attend.

And it can come from performance grading of teachers, administrators, schools, and school districts where promotions, tenure, salaries, and funding are driven by performance measures rather than time in seat metrics. Whatever the cause of the tension, its presence promotes improved performance and provides a baseline for continuous growth in the system. While the United States is still experimenting with stress in the form of limited competition from charter schools and grading of schools, teachers, and administrators, the bulk of the US K-12 education system is still a monopoly void of competitive pressure.

They cannot provide an adequate understanding of how to work on improving the education system or what the needs of individual students are. This is another weakness of standardized examinations. “As the American education system continues to place more emphasis on standardized testing to measure academic achievement, critics have argued that it can be more harmful than helpful to students’ development in the long run” (Straus).

Poor performance in a single standardized exam can also shatter the confidence of a student. In the article “Retrieval practice over the long term: Should spacing be expanding or equal-interval? by Kang, Lindsey and Mozer, two researchers named Landauer and Bjork (1978) argued for the superiority of increasing intervals, whereas more recent research has often failed to find any advantage.

However, these prior studies have generally compared growing versus equal-interval training within a single session, and have evaluated outcomes only upon a single final test. He or she may have worked hard throughout the study session but failed to perform in the particular standardized exam. Such performance can impact his or her future education as well. They can lose confidence and can’t focus on their studies any longer. This can have long-term negative impacts.

Another downside of standardized examinations is that teachers stop innovating and trying new educating methods in the classroom. Since their sole target is to complete the course before the exams arrive, each minute counts. They will not focus on innovating or using specialized techniques to help the students learn (Koretz). Authors Pan, Pashler and Potter mentioned teachers only worry about completing the course and the students not doing well in the standardized examination.

This comes at the cost of creativity, innovation, engagement, inquiry, and risk-taking in student learning. If there are no standardized examinations and the teachers are allowed to grade their students, they can focus on creativity and engagement with the students to ensure they learn. They can even focus on individual students that require special assistance to ensure they are also on the same page as their students (Pan, Pashler and Potter). They can learn about new educating methods and implement them in the classroom. They can take the risk by utilizing these new methods. They do not have to worry about completing a pre-defined syllabus.

Also, mentioned in the journal article “Testing enhances learning across a range of episodic memory abilities” by Pan, Pashler and Potter that “In such an environment, the teacher’s performance is not linked with the performance of the students during a specific exam.”

They can use their methods of teaching, take help from fellow educators, and ensure that the students are benefited to the maximum from the learning being offered to them. Author Nixon agreed with Pan, Pashler and Potter argument by saying, Irrespective of the size and diversity of the course content covered in a study period, the standardized tests are of a definite size and include only a few questions from the entire course content.

I believe several factors can take place that can cause a student to get one or two of these limited numbers of questions wrong and impact the overall score of the student such as environmental or situational. However, certain conditions may exist which can cause these conditions to vary from student to student. A student may be sitting in a situation that is too bright or too dark or in a situation that is too cold or too hot (Poulsen and Hewson). Such extreme testing conditions for some students may directly impact their performance during such exams.

One example is that of poor lighting at an examination center. One example is that of poor lighting at an examination center. Working in poor lighting can cause a headache to a student and disturb their entire paper. The extremity of temperature in a room can directly impact the ability of a student to focus (Perks). If a student is faced with such an extreme situational issue, reporting it to the invigilator present in the room usually has little to no effect. The student is not able to perform to his best because of the lack of optimum conditions in the examination room during the standardized exam (Poulsen and Hewson).

Standardized testing provides a connection between provincial education systems or even national education systems. Advocates say that standardized tests are fair and reasonable. They declare that standardized tests are a cheap way to check that schools and teachers are accountable, students. Therefore, the public is getting the education that public money is paying for, which I believe it’s useless. Authors Dr. John Poulsen and Kurtis Hewson mentioned, “… the standardization of standardized exams is being eroded.” Standardized examinations from this measure are meant to examine the whole education system, not individual scores. Certain students tend to get nervous under test examinations.

Author John Poulsen and Kurtis Hewson mentioned in their article that there are nerves associated with every examination and students may not be able to demonstrate what they have learned or their other capabilities in such a stressful environment. Their performance during the exam is impacted by their anxiety rather than the level of knowledge they have about the topics in the paper. Even those students who perform well during tests and quizzes in the classroom can have skewed results. I would agree with author John Poulsen and Kurtis Hewson because myself coming from another country where you are focusing on classroom quizzes and exams and don’t know anything about standardized exams.

In article “Standardized Testing: Fair or Not?” by John Poulson and Kurtis one of experimenters named Popham said,”….. standardized achievement tests will invariably contain a number of items that are not aligned with what’s emphasized in a particular setting” (p. 331). A study found in 1983 about alignment of textbook contents and standardized exams found that not even 50% of material in standardized exams satisfy textbook content. (Popham, p. 331). That’s why there is a poor correlation between what was in the test and in the textbooks that were a prime resource to prepare students for the test. The socio-economic status of a student is also correlated to the scores attained in a standardized examination.

Students coming from low income family and minorities The number of American children who are living in poverty is totaling around 16 million in 2013; one in every five children is living in poverty (Shields, 2013). Prolonged and environmental stress can change a child’s neurological pathways impairing one’s ability to learn and affecting a student’s educational opportunity (Shields, 2013). Life stressors, such as living in poverty, as often shown in many students’ schoolwork and can offer perspicacity as to why high-stakes testing outcomes are unpredictable (Carney, 2013).

According to author Ritt, study after study is showing that high-stakes testing is not bringing forth educational justice, but instead widening the achievement gap more and more (Jennings, 2005). In many cases, standardized examinations promote students to cram what they have learned in the class rather than to focus on the concepts and remember them in the long-term (Meador). There is no intention to teach how those concepts can be applied to real-life at that time or at a later time in the life of the students. The teachers are forced to motivate the students to focus only on getting good grades on the standardized examination (Strauss).

There are only a handful of students who actually have a good memory and can easily remember the course content (Meador). For the rest of the students, cramming helps them to remember the course content in a block manner. Once in the exam, they try to remember the crammed material to the best extent possible and write it down to the greatest extent they can recall. How can a system that promotes cramming and simply recalling course content be beneficial in the long-run? The alternative to the standardized examination is to allow students to write an essay or apply the concepts they have learned to case studies or situations they have personally faced.

Writing an essay requires a student to think about the subject matter, develop a reflection on the topic, and make use of classroom learning and life learning to write the essay. The students are motivated to engage their learning by utilizing their comprehension and memory. The chances of cheating are also reduced. Students learn to apply their knowledge. The students focus on the provided question and develop their answers. There is a significant room of deviation without compromising on the accuracy of the solution. Standardized examinations have various flaws.

They are created by examiners who desire a bell curve rather than providing everyone with an opportunity to get excellent grades. They cannot serve as a valid tool to assess the quality of the education system. Various situational, environmental, and emotional factors can force a student to face problems on exam day. The purpose of the alternative test is to develop critical thinking that a student will be benefited in the future. The essay writing can help overcome the flaw associated with a standardized examination.

Works Cited

  1. Benjamin, Aaron S. and Has Pashler. “The Value of Standardized Testing: A Perspective From Cognitive Psychology.”
  2. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2015): 13-23. Divis, K. M. and A. S. Benjamin. “Retrieval speeds context fluctuation: Why semantic generation enhances later learning but hinders prior learning.”
  3. Memory & Cognition (2014): 1049-1062. Kang, S. H., et al. “Retrieval practice over the long term: Should spacing be expanding or equal-interval?”
  4. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2014): 1544-1550. Koretz, Daniel. The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. Chicago: The Univeristy of Chicago Press, 2017.
  5. Meador, Derrick. Examining the Pros and Cons of Standardized Testing. 2019. 01 Nov. 2019 <https://www.thoughtco.com/examining-the-pros-and-cons-of-standardized testing-3194596>.
  6. NCTE. How Standardized Tests Shape-and Limit—Student Learning. 2014.01 Nov. 2019 <https://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/CC/0242 nov2014/CC0242Policy Standardized.pdf>.
  7. Nixon, Bryan. The Pros and Cons of Standardized Testing. 2019. 1 Nov. 2019 <https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/the-pros-and-cons-of standardized-testing> Pan, S. C., et al.
  8. “Testing enhances learning across a range of episodic memory abilities.” Journal of Memory and Language (2015): 53-61.
  9. Pate-Cornell, Elisabeth and William B. Rouse. Perspectives on Complex Global Challenges: Education, Energy, Healthcare. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, New Jersey, 2016. Perks, Tom.
  10. “What Makes a Classroom an Effective Learning Environment?” A Light on Teaching (2014): 11-14. Poulsen, John and Kurtis Hewson. “Standardized Testing: Fair or Not?”
  11. A Light on Teaching (2014): 21-25. Ritt, Maddolyn. The Impact of High-stakes Testing on the Learning Environment. 2016. 01 Nov. 2019 <https://sophia.stkate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi? article=1660&context=msw_papers> Strauss, Valerie.
  12. The pros and cons of standardized testing — in one highly unusual list. 2015. 01 Nov. 2019 <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer sheet/wp/2015/05/13/the-pros-and-cons-of-standardized-testing-in-one-highly unusual-list/>

 

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Standardized Tests Should Be Eliminated. (2021, Oct 05). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/standardized-tests-should-be-eliminated-essay

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