Dear Next President,
Firstly, congratulations on your winning of the election. I know that you are the perfect person to fix the issue of standardized testing in our country. Michelle Obama, the current first lady, says, “If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn't be here. I guarantee you that.” As I am sure Michelle would agree, the tests take up extensive amounts of class time, are not a useful way to assess students abilities, and most of all, they are a pointless reason to induce stress. As a tenth grader who has had nine years of experience with standardized testing, I am very passionate about the subject.
In my school district, you start taking standardized tests when you are in the first grade. That means that I have spent the equivalent of over three weeks of regular school days taking these tests, and personally I think that is ridiculous. Not only have they been a waste of my learning time, but the results don’t have any benefit for me or my teachers. Sure, it is a way to track improvement, but the results are always received too late for both me and my teachers to alter anything to improve them. Not to mention, the countless number of anxiety attacks and skipped activities I have had the night before each and every test that I have taken.
Standardized testing has occurred annually in the US educational system since the mid-1800’s. In 2002, the “No Child Left Behind Act” made annual testing mandatory in all fifty states. Regardless of it being a requirement, the United States has continued to slip in the world math rankings, from 18th place in 2000 to 31st in 2009. Some may claim that that is just coincidental, but we wouldn’t have slipped so far in the rankings if it weren’t for schools spending multitudinous weeks of class time teaching kids how to pass the standardized tests instead of teaching them.
The statistics show that America is failing, educationally speaking, to keep up with the rest of the world. By creating a standard for students, we are completely denying them their freedoms intellectually by making a standard of knowledge. There are no two people that learn exactly the same, so how do you expect to put an entire country of students into categories based on their ability to think one way?
Many people believe that standardized tests are the best way to track students improvement. They believe that this sort of testing makes the most sense logically to track how well individual schools are doing at teaching their students. To them, I would say that yes, standardized testing is a way to track student growth and schools abilities, but it is not the best way. There are so many other forms of assessment that are fair and more accurate to track such things as growth and adequacy.
I believe that the only way we can be absolutely fair when it comes to these things is to make a nationwide grading system. This way, no in class time will need to be spent on anything but learning. Schools can be assessed on the average of their students GPA and all of the problems surrounding standardized testing will be solved. I know that there are some flaws to this plan, but hopefully you can help me fill in the gaps.
~Maureen A, MN