Dear Future President, whoever you may be,
The American Public Education System is designed to aid students, to help us become functioning adults come our time to take hold of this country. However, the current system in place is anything but beneficial to us. The current system of standardized testing has caused many students to feel overworked, overstressed, and sometimes at a complete loss as to what to do because they have too much to do for someone their age in their situation.
We’re bombarded with homework from many classes, some teachers completely disregarding the workload we have from other classes. Sometimes it seems like we’ve near weekly tests that all follow the same format: a section of multiple choice/true false, next a fill in the blank section, and finally, a few ‘essay’ questions. But the biggest, most detrimental flaw, is the way the tests ‘asses’ us. You see, they don’t test our knowledge on a topic they don’t often test us intellectually, either. Standardized tests tend to simply show our aptitude for memorization more than anything else for subjects most won’t ever use in their future.
I, and many others, sometimes feel frustrated when our intelligence is measured in how well we can memorize the material presented to us. Especially in high school, we’re expected to wake up earlier than our bodies want, be enthusiastic, and take everything thrown at us in stride. Often, the validity of standardized testing can be brought into question due to how broad the tests themselves are. Sometimes the tests are far too simple for more advanced students, and just too much information for others to fully absorb and regurgitate the necessary on the tests. A nine years study conducted by the National Research Council found that those who come from low income families, are not native english speakers, and those who have disabilities are disproportionately more likely to be given “dumbed down,” material which does nothing to help them grow. The drop rate in minority students, non-native english speakers ect. are much higher than any other group. I as a student feel as though the testing is not designed to test my intelligence, and as a result, I’m not challenged by them, especially when the tests in question are for subjects I have a natural aptitude for. I feel as though I have to bring myself lower to absorb the information given to me at times, as though I’m being forced to sacrifice learning for memorizing.
The reputation of many schools is reflected heavily by the grades the students attending it get on standardized tests. Due to this, many schools push students for better grades and more advanced classes to improve their own reputation. An overwhelming amount of information is forced upon the students, who are expected to understand and absorb all of it in a short span of time, then show their memorization of the material shortly after on the test. In short, not much is learned at all; we’re simply stuffed full of information that is forgotten as soon as it has been thrown back onto the test. Standardized testing often works against those with learning disabilities as well, as the fast paced, strict-minded way they work can come into conflict with how those with such disabilities learn. It is not uncommon for people with learning disabilities to be held back in some form or another because they fall behind due to the past pace, and the study conducted by the National Research Council found that being held back causes much academic and emotional damage and tends to lead to dropping out, not any form of academic improvement.
The issue with standardized testing isn’t something that can just be changed overnight, but it does need to be changed for the betterment of education instead of overworking and overstressing students. When students are pushed to take advanced classes for a better future, and told that scores on a test will heavily impact their lives, something needs to change. For the sake of said overworked students, please do something to solve the apparent issues with standardized testing.
Thank you for reading this long letter,