Bellamy M. Washington

Why standardized testing doesn't work..

Standardized testing might not be as helpful as we'd hoped it'd be, and this is why.

Dear Mr. or Madam President,

As a student in America, I know what it is like to prepare for the upcoming standardized test. A majority of our time leading up to a test is our teachers teaching us each part or objective present in the test. The rest of the time, students are frantically trying to memorize these objectives, rather than really thinking and understanding them. These tests are extremely stressful. They are one of the few ways that our knowledge and skill are decided, affecting the rest of our education and how it will play out. Because it affects so much of our future, we lose sleep studying, and our anxiety and stress rise to insane levels. Instead of these tests truly showing our abilities, it shows what we can memorize or how we'll we can guess.

As a student from Tukwila, WA, one of the most diverse school districts in our Nation, I also know about the struggles of non-English speaking students, expected to take these tests and perform at the same standard or higher. According to The National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2013-2014 school year, 9.3% of our students were English Language Learners. Those 4.5 million students struggle to try to prove every year, that they are learning just the same; but how can they adequately do so after only a few months learning what English speaking students have learned their whole lives.

Another reason standardized testing doesn’t work how it’s meant to is the fact that students are only learning “to the test”. The University of Maryland said "the pressure teachers were feeling to 'teach to the test” after a five year study in 2007. Instead of students learning a full curriculum, they lose out on the other objectives.

I know that for change to happen, there has to be a plan. My plan for action is to pull back on standardized testing and focus on a student’s performance in the classroom. Personally speaking, my best work comes from when I am in the classroom, learning about what class really is for. I’d hope that in your time as president, you would find a way to evaluate our knowledge that is fair for ELL students, and uses all that we learn in classes, without causing us so much stress it affects our performance over all.