Dear Next President,
Standardized tests are wreaking havoc on the American education system. Millions of students in the United States take standardized tests during any given school year. This is because in 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act was put into effect, and this act essentially forced schools to give out multiple standardized tests each year. These tests are handed out every year by the government, and there is not much gained from their results. American schools should repeal all standardized tests taken by students because they have an extremely negative impact on students and teachers alike. Repealing these tests is a good idea because they are not effective in measuring student progression, they worsen American education, they bring harm to teachers, and they do not prepare students for their adult lives.
Standardized tests are not effective in measuring a student’s progress. Many of these tests only measure the subjects of reading and math, but there is more to education than two subjects. Real progress cannot be measured with a single number. Real progress cannot be measured by fill in the bubble questions. Real progress cannot be measured in two hours on a random day during the school year. The standardized tests that students take are “completely unsuitable for the purposes to which they are being put” (Popham 52). These tests cannot measure the most important aspects of education, such as creativity and curiosity, things that cannot be measured by a number. If a standardized tests’ sole purpose is to track the progress of students, and it cannot even do that, then what is the point?
Some may argue that standardized testing has improved student achievement in American schools, but in reality the opposite is true. In my personal experience as a student, I have never been motivated in the slightest by the existence of standardized tests, and if you asked other students they would agree. If anything, these tests have caused many students to become discouraged in school and less motivated. When students receive a low score, they lose confidence and start looking at themselves as a number, rather than a person with ideas, decreasing their motivation in school. Constant testing encourages even successful students to see the goal of education as passing tests rather than developing an understanding of what they are learning. Standardized tests are “failing to test relevant knowledge and skills,” and do not, in any way, translate to better achievement from students (Francia and Mackinney 80). Since the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted in 2002, “the US has slipped from 18th in the world in math to 31st in 2009, with a similar drop in science” (Popham 51). As you can see, American education has deteriorated since the introduction of more and more standardized tests.
Additionally, teachers are suffering as a result of standardized testing. The tests were made to compare the achievement of students, not the quality of teachers. Teachers “are being evaluated on the basis of student performances on tests that were created to yield comparative score interpretations rather than to measure instructional quality” (Popham 48). This system we have created, can have two possible outcomes. First, teachers could start teaching for the test and only educate students on the small amount of information that they need to know. This does not benefit students in any way, and can only hurt them in all aspects of their lives. The second outcome is that teachers instruct their class in a creative and inventive way, but then get fired because their test scores are much too low. This last February, an Indiana teacher went viral when she gave a letter to her students prior to ISTEP testing. The letter told the students that they were more than just a number and this test could not measure all their true abilities. A mom of one of the students shared this letter with the world and stated that it brought her to tears. Months later, a reporter discovered that the students in her class got lower ISTEP scores than average. Even though she is a great teacher, the test scores of her class did not reflect her abilities. Teachers like her are becoming more and more rare due to the unfair consequences of low test scores. Some of the best teachers in the country suffer because of the standardized test system.
Lastly, standardized tests do nothing to prepare students for adult lives. It is obvious that every standardized test maker tries his best to apply all the questions to real-world situations, but it does not work. No amount of filling in bubbles can prepare you for life in the adult world. Many supporters of standardized testing are quick to point out that China has implemented some form of testing for centuries, and they are one of the top educational countries in the world. Without a doubt, some of the best test-takers come out of China, but that is all they are: good test-takers. The students may get high scores, but Chinese schools “fail to prepare them for higher education and knowledge of the economy” (Serravallo 12). Being good at these tests will not help you get a job interview or manage your money well. Although most “students must pass standardized tests to graduate from high school,” they virtually have no impact after you finish your educational career (Posner 1).
Standardized testing harms everyone involved and all versions of it should be repealed in America. You, as the President, have the most power in this country, and I implore you to consider the points I have made. Repealing these tests would not only make students happier and more apt to come to school, but more intuitive in their education.