Tiffany C. Indiana

The Heart of Education

A look at why standardized testing is not at the heart of a quality education.

Dear President,

It’s no secret that the children are the heart of this country. They are the future. However, the future of these children is decided for them through a series of standardized tests that measures their potential to be successful. As an 11th grade student, I’ve taken more standardized tests than I can count on my hands. Just last year, I took PSAT, the English ECA, and the ISTEP+ for both math and English. Some of them occurred back to back, without allowing any time for students to recuperate. On average, students spend 20-25 hours taking standardized tests. I can say from experience that this is true. I have experienced the anxiety, the pressure, the low self-esteem, and several other negative effects from the standardized tests. Last school year was extremely hard on me and my fellow students because of the pressure to score well on each of these tests.

There are many cons to standardized testing. The purpose of standardized testing is to determine the comprehension and skill of students and give meaningful results. Mostly though, these tests measure the ability of students to retain standard information. The tests do not measure the creativity of a student. They do not take into account that some students think differently than others. Therefore, the results given do not and should not decide rather or not that student is smart or bound for success. Teachers have reported that their students suffer from sleeplessness and severe test anxiety. Some students, even as young as elementary students, have been reported to throw up, cry, or both when faced with a standardized test. The pressure to do well is too high. Also, standardized tests take up class time. For the average 8th grade student, 2.3% of classroom time is spent taking standardized tests. Teachers use the rest of their class time to teach to the test. It’s not only students and teachers that realize these negativities. 67% of public school parents say that there is too much emphasis on testing while only 14% say testing is important in measuring school effectiveness. Standardized tests have proven not to be successful. Finland topped the international education rankings from 2001 – 2008. Finland however does not use standardized tests to rank students. On top of all of this, standardized testing is costly. States spend some $1.7 billion a year on these tests.

The future leaders, scientists, and inventors are currently children in school. However, their voices and ideas may be silenced just because of a low score on a standardized test. You wouldn’t test a goldfish on its ability to climb a tree but instead on its ability to swim. So, why should students be tested on their ability to perform well in all subjects when there may only be one subject that they’re strong in? Standardized testing has negative effects on students, teachers, and schools while producing results that are potentially worthless. Something needs to be done for the good of the future, the children, the heart, and the country. Standardized testing should be greatly decreased if not eliminated because of its undesirable effects.