1) It narrows the curriculum to what the test assesses
a) Emphasis is placed on testing material
b) Limits creative thinking
c) Subjects such as Music and Art are cut from the school curriculum
2) It causes unnecessary stress for both students and teachers
a) Fear of Failure
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b) Increased drop-out rate
c) Loss of Federal Funding
3) It does not accurately gauge how much a student knows
a) Test anxiety can alter results
b) The test can be biased
Imagine for a moment that you are a bright young man getting ready to graduate from high school. You have been waiting for this day most of your life. There’s only one problem; you failed the High School Exit Exam. That is exactly what happened to Brandon Porter. Three points stood between him and his diploma. How did this happen? Brandon, an average student, was passing all of his classes with A’s and B’s. For the last four years, that is all that his teachers have been teaching. He was sure he had it nailed. Unfortunately, that was not the case; he failed. Brandon is a perfect example of why this style of testing is flawed.
Standardized testing encourages teaching to pass “the test”; it causes unnecessary stress for both students and teachers, and ultimately does not accurately gauge how much a student knows or learnt during his/her high school careers. Although a way to monitor the public school systems adequate progress is crucial, it is also imperative to develop a more effective way of doing so. Standardized testing undermines the whole learning concept.
Standardized testing encourages a narrowed curriculum and inadequate methods of teaching. The pressure that the test brings, in terms of performing well, compels the teachers to create and organize their curriculum in accordance with the test. Instead of teaching in a way that would personalize their teaching method based on strengths and weaknesses of each student, the teachers choose to supply the students with knowledge that they need to pass the test. In other words, students memorize the materials, hence becoming poor critical thinkers. Therefore, teachers are not able to measure the creativity of each student and their learning form. Some school systems go as far as eliminating other creative areas like art, music, physical education or even creative writing to make more room and free up more financial resources for test preparation.
Additionally, standardized testing causes unnecessary stress for students as well as teachers. Who would not be stressed, with so much riding on this one test? No one wants to fail. Although students know that they have another opportunity to retake the test, it discourages them. Some students, who do not have encouragement and support from home, think “what is the use in trying, give up and drop out of School?” High school drop-out rate has increased since the implementation of the High School Exit Exams. Teachers, also, are under a lot of stress. It is their responsibility to teach the students according to the curriculum. If a student fails, so do the teachers. School systems have to meet adequate yearly progress with the state. If they do not make this progress, they desperately lose the needed federal funding. Therefore, there is a lot that rides on students passing this test.
Moreover, Standardized testing does not accurately gauge how much a student know or has learnt during his/her high school career. Students’ knowledge is not the only thing that sways their performance on the test. There are students who have test anxiety and feel extremely nervous during examinations. Considering the condition of students with test anxiety, there is a huge likelihood that they will not do well on the test even if they knew the material exceptionally well. There are also biases with standardized testing that make it faulty. A good example of this might be vocabulary, language, and cultural differences; all within the same school. Although programs to help have been put into place, there are students today in local schools systems whose English is not their first language and have difficulty passing this test.
Overall, standardized testing is not the best way to appraise a student’s worth and knowledge. The criteria for the test dictate exactly what teachers are able to teach and take free learning away from the classroom. It can change the course and goals of anyone’s life and can take a person where he/she least expected to end up. Fortunately, Brandon was not a statistic. He was able to re-take the Exit Exam and passed. His was a good ending. He received his Diploma the same time as his classmates since he was able to graduate. Others were not so lucky!