Dear President of the United States of America,
As a citizen of this country, and as a stressed out high school student, I would like to bring up a couple of issues in our education system. I know that there are many parts of our education system that remain up to the states and counties where we live, but I know of one thing that you do have control over. Standardized tests are a nationwide contributor to our American education, and they are causing multiple problems to both students and teachers. Problems related to stress, what we are taught in the classroom, and how we should be learning are all related to standardized testing. These issues will only continue to grow unless we address them now.
I know that testing is meant to measure a student’s knowledge and skill, but the amount of testing a student has to endure is uncanny. I have recently read an interesting article written by The Washington Post titled “Study Says Standardized Testing Is Overwhelming Nation’s Public Schools.” Within the article, there was a study that was done in the 2014-2015 school year in 66 urban school districts. The study shows that during the two most heavily tested school years, 8th and 10th grade, students could spend up to 25.3 hours solely on standardized tests. This number does not include tests, finals, and quizzes taking in each individual classroom. Since this study was done, the number of tests have increased, especially in my county. I have had to take old standardized tests, as well as new, experimenting tests almost every year in my high school career. The Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Alberto Carvalho, said, “I believe in accountability… But fewer assessments of higher quality are better… What we have now across the country is confusing, hard to navigate, and, I believe, abusive of both teacher and student time.” Sure, standardized test are here to assess our progress and knowledge, but do we really need so many?
Standardized tests are not only large in number, but they are eating up all instructional time. In another article created by The Washington Post titled “11 Problems Created by the Standardized Testing Obsession,” the author, Valerie Strauss, wonderfully outlines the problems created in classrooms because of standardized testing. “1. The obsession with high-stakes standardized tests is stifling creativity and imagination in the classroom… 3. Standardized tests are being used in high-stakes ways to evaluate and punish teachers… 5. The obsession with standardized tests is promoting a culture of cheating in many schools… 6. The obsession with standardized tests is driving teachers… to teach to the test.” There are so many more reasons the author lists. Because of standardized tests, there is less critical thinking in the classroom. Every student is tested in the same way, and not as individuals. Standardized testing has created a “one-size-fits-all-curriculum.” They do not accurately measure what students learn, and they do not accurately prepared students for college and careers. Strauss says, “Standardized tests mostly benefit companies making millions from them.” Classroom instructional time should not be used to teach to a test, it should be used to encourage creativity, imagination, and critical thinking.
I understand the importance of standardized testing. They are meant to measure a student’s knowledge and progress. But we have to keep in mind that not every student is the same. Some students may be great at reading while others are great at math, but that doesn’t mean the math student is any more or less ready to take on the world. Standardized testing has taken over schools. Valuable class time is spent preparing for and taking tests. I’m sure you have heard this many times before, but students need to learn how to be a good citizen, how to pay taxes, how to live on their own, and how to get a job rather than learning how to find the value of x in an equation. I am definitely not saying we should completely ban standardized tests, I am just proposing that we reduce the amount. Standardized tests are stressing out students all across the country, and, as you know, stress causes a whole new set of mental and physical health issues. Overall, standardized tests in our education system are overwhelming for every student, teacher, and school system involved. I hope you will consider what I have written to you today as you watch over our country from the beautiful White House.