Dear Madam President:
Congratulations on the presidential election! I am very glad you won, and I hope to see your presidency make a positive change in society.
In your campaign, I especially agreed with your want of advancing educators and their profession. I greatly appreciate and respect all of my teachers and what they do; it inspired me to become an educator myself. The future of America is in the hands of the youth’s educators, so the way students are educated is incredibly important. A problem many students face within the American school system is standardized testing and the way it is presented to them. The problem must be taken care of before students are permanently pressured into the chains of “standard” learning.
Standardized testing is a heated topic in America. Some say it is good. It shows students’ abilities and points out areas of study that need improvement. Others say it is bad. The tests do not fully express students’ capabilities and poorly reflect the learning experience. I was originally adamant about how standardized testing is bad when I first thought about it. I believed standardized testing being administered in schools forced students to stay in a box and not go beyond. But then I researched it.
Standardized testing is actually not that bad. It is in fact a good way to measure progress and evaluate a course. One of the classes I am enrolled in this year is a great example. The teacher was not teaching the material and most of the work for the class was done independently with little guidance. The end result was everyone receiving Cs, Ds, and Fs on the first unit test. No one was learning the material well, the tests proved that, and it was the teacher’s fault. Woessmann explained, “It makes it easier to tell whether a given student’s poor performance is an exception [. . .] or whether the whole class is doing poorly [. . .] centralized exams make it obvious whether it is the student or the teacher who is to blame.” He later elaborated that without standardized testing, students would not be motivated to study. In the same class, all students worked harder to do well on the next test by doing the reading and study guide, and everyone received higher grades.
So logically, I believe standardized testing is a good thing. I emphasize logically because facts are what brought me to this conclusion. However, my morals do not sit well with the idea. I cannot bring myself to agree with putting each student, who learns differently and has a different set of skills, up to the same standard. Now, I could provide all of these great facts and statistics that support my morals, but I do not want to. I am a person of morals, and I believe the moral should be enough justification for my stance. To judge a student based on number or percentile is not something I want to do, and that is that. For many, only using personal opinion with no factual support goes against their ethicality of debating a topic of issue.
That is where I get to morals and ethics. My stance: morality over ethicality. And yet that depends on my morals and ethics. The thing is, morals are the foundation of ethics. People base ethics on morals. But others base morals on ethics. So really, morals can be based on refined morals. So how is it that I have a battle with two concepts that are essentially the same thing, but so different at the same time? That is another argument, which will need the use of morals and ethics. Perhaps morality and ethicality are concepts to leave alone after a certain point. Maybe these concepts are something too high of a level or humans to comprehend. But how could they, when humans were the ones to create them? Again, perhaps it is a concept to leave alone after a certain point.
But back to standardized testing. Standardized testing itself is not the issue, I believe. The issue is how schools and educators approach the use of it. Teachers should not work the lesson plan around “students need to know this for this test.” That promotes knowing enough material in order to pass. Teachers should work the lesson plan around “students should know this for real life situations.” That promotes learning the material in order to know about the subject. Popham said, “Educators should definitely be held accountable. The teaching of a nation’s children is too important to be left unmonitored.” Standardized testing is all America has in order to evaluate progress. And progress is happening; I think this letter can attest to that. All we need is to do is adjust the distribution.
Yes, I do mean we. We as the youth and educators and nation must see to the change. However, we need a leader to follow to make us come together and fight alongside one another. You are that leader, Madam President. Please, help educators and their students by proposing a solution to the restrictions of “teaching to the test.”
Again, congratulations on winning the presidential election. Thank you for accepting the responsibility of leading our nation, and I appreciate all you do and will do for this country.
Popham, W. James. “Why Standardized Tests Don't Measure Education Quality.” Educational Leadership 56.6 (1999): 8-15. ASCD. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.
Woessmann, Ludger. “Why Students in Some Countries Do Better.” Education Next 1.2 (2001): n. pag. Education Next. Education Next, 2015. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.