In this article, author is making an argument that the standardised testing is detrimental for our students, teachers, schools and society. The author offers following reasons as proof-
Since this system is not proven as it has never been carried out and tested in American history, therefore it may harbor some unknown dangers. It appears to be un-sound as no other country follows this type of practice.
The author states that another flaw of this system is that it measure superficial knowledge and therefore encourages the students to develop a habit of shallow thinking rather than intellectual thinking. The author further supports and strengthens his point by stating that he has never come across a scholar of repute who has accredited and recommended this system for the younger children.
According to him, the practice is unworthy because test scores vary across students according to their social differences rather than the teaching methods.
Further demerit of the standardised testing advocated by the author is that schools are cutting those otherwise essential programmes that do not have standard testing procedures and making education even worse.
He makes an essential argument that the money and time which is wasted in preparation of testing material could be diverted to real teaching. Author argues that repeated and irrelevant testing results in poor teaching which further deteriorates the standard of poorer schools that end up getting lesser scores and ultimately the least bonuses. Thus it is the tests that are responsible for poor performance of students in poorer areas but, not even politicians and policy makers warrant this and it is lamented as an excuse made by the teachers.
Author supports his claim by explaining the plight of teachers under this system.
He maintains that due to misplaced emphasis on scoring, the teachers are under ever-increasing pressure and therefore, merely facilitating students to obtain higher scores. However, many teachers are recognizing and sensing that this is a futile endeavor and it really does not constitute good education. As a reason, a number of teachers have left teaching to seek other better and fulfilling professions.
The teachers have been made accountable for the low scores of students which are actually due to the students belonging to less educated families.
On the other hand, existing resources, education and knowledge of rich and educated families help their wards to acquire knowledge more easily. This knowledge is then tested and they end up scoring more than the students belonging to poorer and less educated families.
Author has progressed from discussing inadequacies of the tests in judging the knowledge of students leading to improper learning to wastage of resources due to standard testing. Then author has shifted to poorer students who scored low, standard testing as the main reason claimed by him. Author is then emphasizing a direct relationship between poor social and economic status and low scores thereby, trying to support his argument that therefore standardised testing is not relevant. Author has taken his argument further and rendered standardised testing as the biggest culprit in marginalization of these students rather than poverty, racism, poor facilities, inadequate funds and less staff.
Had a standardised testing been done under a situation where there is a better teacher to student ratio, different solution oriented programmes and a well planned approach, would then also standard testing be as irrelevant as claimed by the author? These issues has not been raised by the author, instead due to clever use of language the standard testing appears to be the focal issue and main culprit.
Certainly author’s language has played an important part in influencing his audience that the standardised testing is bad and ultimately worse for the ones who need an education imminently. Audience of his subject are various stake holders such as policy makers, public officials, journalists, parents and teachers belonging to the poorer districts of United States in late nineties, where education of the students of ethnical minorities was a big challenge.
The author is making a final conclusion that the tests unintentionally end up sorting out students of a certain level from the other. These levels are categorically two-the affluent and the poor ethnical minorities. According to him these minorities cannot be benefited until teaching is improved in terms of eliminating standardised testing.
Standard testing is known for its uniform assessment of students across the country irrespective of different states, regions, school cultures and background of teachers. No other way can provide more unbiased testing of such a big number of students coming from different parts of this diverse country. It is highly dependable and accurate even at a large-scale. Personal interviews as compared to test scores as a means of sorting best candidates do not seem a better idea. However, even with many advantages of standard testing, it is not without limitations, some of which have been pointed by the author and need to be tackled. Therefore, its complete abolition is not the answer rather a number of improvements may make it even a better preposition for the future generations.