Standardized Testing Experiences

Here are my undergraduate students’ unedited exam descriptions of their experiences with standardized tests.   All of them left high school just a few years ago.

Female Student — I’ll admit that standardized tests can be helpful in examining the curriculums set up. They can assist in seeing which methods are working and which are not. They are also cheap to produce, administer, and grade. That is as much as I am willing to delude myself with the idea that they are a good thing. They have horrible effects on teaching, curriculum, at-risk children, and increase the probability of dropouts.

Teachers face a huge amount of stress because of these tests. Standardized tests end up determining the curriculum because teachers want to keep the administration happy which means getting good scores. Thus, they are forced to teach whatever is on the course of study for the tests and end up sacrificing a ton of other topics to teach about because they need their students to be as prepared as they can be.

Not only do standardized tests affect teachers negatively, it affects students negatively. Stressful and sometimes depressing there has been an increase in the rates of dropouts in states that have graduation tests. At-risk children are even worse off; the unfair comparison of demographics that these test provide end up “failing” children in this situation.

The last thing I must say about these tests is that the subjects that are normally seen as a relief from stress and worry like music, physical education, drama, and art are made less important because of standardized testing. The emphasized curriculums are placed on math and English class and often times the other classes are cut short or end up going without adequate funding. This is perhaps one of the worst problems these test cause; the subjects that are necessary for well-rounded learning experiences are not being taught.

Female Student — I do not agree with standardized test in American public schools. Some students just aren’t very good test takers. I get so nervous about a test that I can’t even focus, then studying becomes pointless. I would rather do my homework and have a pop quiz than have to study and be prepared for a big test. Many teachers don’t even agree with big standardized test either because they have to take the time from their original lesson plans to make time for all this extra review so that their students do well. Teachers would also agree that if they can’t get new materials or textbooks for their classroom every so often then why are the states wasting money on all this extra costly stuff to provide for standardized test. Also, another reason I don’t like standardized tests is because I feel like I could have got accepted other places if they would have interviewed me rather than looking at my SAT score. High-stakes tests hurt students who are very smart, but just don’t test well. When I become a teacher in a few years I’m not going to be able to teach what I want, but instead what is on that big test my students will have to take at the end of the school year. When children have practice test they cheat just to make a good grade, but then when the big real test comes they are given different test and some end up failing. I just don’t believe standardized, high-stakes test are fair.

Male Student — I believe that public schools place to much emphasis on standardized and high-stake tests. I say this because I know plenty of people who are very good students who are awful standardized testers. How can a standardized test really determine what college a student should attend? In my opinion colleges look to those scores more than they should be. If I were the head of admissions at the University I would set up an interview with students, and let that be the determining factor of whether they get into the institution or not. But this whole notion that we can measure the intelligence level of a student through the SAT or ACT is ridiculous.

I am very passionate about this because I was a good student in high school who never did well in these kinds of tests and because of it I was labeled as not being as smart as everyone else. I do not believe that public school teachers need a score to let them know how their students are doing in class. And I do not think it is right for us to be comparing success of students in a school to the success of students all over the country. Who cares how students are doing all around the country? As a teacher it is your responsibility to teach your students and not worry about national scores.

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#1 Aspergers Syndromes Symptoms on 08.23.10 at 11:54 pm

Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

#2 Casey on 08.24.10 at 8:01 am

Thanks for the comment. Keep reading. It is good to hear that another person believes the six virtues are a useful, inspiring definition of what it means to be educated.

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