I could hear my mother yelling from the hallway, "this is completely unacceptable, how do you plan on passing this year with these kinds of grades?" My mother walked in through the front door with my younger sister who at this point just looked down as my mother kept yelling. My sister would later go on to tell me that she normally understands the material that was on the practice state test, but the stress associated with getting a good grade completely psyched her out. My sister does not understand the need for these kinds of tests if this is the way ten year old think about standardized testing now I wonder how countless people who have finished the public education system feel about it.
|A Faulty Public School System|
The best word to describe the current educational system would be, mediocre. In the public educational system, there is still a large number of high school dropouts, students that have received a high school diploma but are not ready for the real work world, and sometimes students that are not even prepared to pursue higher education. The major reason for problems like these is standardized testing. Teachers in most public schools are instructed to teach students how to take a test instead of real world skills. Then when it comes time to take a standardized exam it does not take into account all the strengths a child may have. While conducting my focus group this theme of having a faulty public school system kept coming up. In one instance Camilo, a Latino college freshman that attends a public college, stated: "maybe the purpose in life for some people is not to become a teacher but some kind of musical legend, something like that cannot be taught through an exam." Standardized testing can not measure creativity, it can only stifle it. The focus group moved on to speak about another huge flaw in relying on standardized testing, what happens to students who excel in mathematics but lack in subjects like English? One member of the group, Greg, a Latino college freshman also attending a public college quoted Einstein and said: "if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree then you make the fish feel stupid."
|The Stress and Emotional Toll|
Standardized testing is programmed into a child's head since elementary school, which means there are seven or eight years old who already know what stressing feels like. They have to face the stress of getting amazing grades on standardized tests or else face the wrath of their parents. Doing badly on a standardized exam can also lower the confidence a child has on their intelligence often times taking an emotional toll, having children be sad because they did not compare similarly to other children. In reading "Heightened Test Anxiety Among Young Children: Elementary School Students' Anxious Responses to High-Stakes Testing" the authors Segool, et al did a study on the anxiety levels elementary school students face when taking standardized tests versus when they take regular class examinations. The study concluded that students do in fact have higher anxiety levels during high-stakes exams. Often times the stress caused by these exams could actually lead to having a lower grade on them. Greg touched base on this idea, he stated that he once knew a friend who was very smart in school but was a horrible test taker. The pressure and stress that came along with standardized testing "got to her", and ended lowering her overall grade. Although she might not have deserved that grade, since the school system focuses mainly on having good standardized test scores having low scores on them can only hurt you.
|A Bunch of B.S.|
Do you remember the process plants use to turn energy into ATP? How about what the XYZ Affair was? No? A lot of people do not remember either; standardized examinations often test things that are not useful to a person's future. Often times what people learn in elementary school, middle school, and high school will be forgotten soon after. Brock, a Latino college freshman who attends a public college shared that half of the information he learned to pass his regents did not stay in his brain. He later stated that grown adults would remember even less than he does now. He gave an example saying that an accountant does not remember geographical facts he learned in elementary school because he does not need it for his job. So why test us on things we do not need for our future? To reaffirm this belief Leonard, a Latino College Freshmen participant who also attends a public college, stated "when are you going to take a test in your day to day job? Instead, you are just expected to do your job." The focus group as a whole concluded that most of the things found on exams is "a bunch of B.S."
|A Way Out: Alternatives to Standardized Testing|
Many parents who do not want their children to go through the stress of taking standardized tests can choose to opt them out, but there could be other alternatives people have recommended besides just giving out standardized exams. Many people have said to focus less on the scores received by standardized examinations and instead focus on a child's project or writing sample when deciding things like high school admissions. Other people think the educational system should just improve the standardized examinations instead of just removing them, Leonard agreed with that idea. He stated that "if schools gave tests on tell me what you know about the subject rather than answer these questions the department needs you to know by now, helping a student learn would be easier." He believes that the educational system should focus more on whether a child is learning or not instead of finding new ways to appear smarter while hiding the fact that children are not really learning. The focus group agreed with what Leonard had to say.