Garfield Senior High School

Opinion: Call for action — Testing

Everyday a student goes into class expecting a normal schedule- sit down, take out a notebook, pencils, pens, and eraser. Everything seems ordinary, until the teacher suddenly announces a surprise quiz.

Everyone groans and a few begin to panic. As students, we’re generally familiar with this scenario. Particularly when it comes to standardized tests.

Standardized tests are tests that tell you whether you know enough or too little. Maybe you know them as the tests that decide whether or not the schools get a lot of money. Schools aren’t teaching kids the things that can help them navigate in life, but are instead helping them memorize things that will appear on these tests. The problem with this is that students aren’t really learning.

Students who take these standardized tests learn things that will help them pass a test that won’t really benefit them. While students are learning things that make them look better for schools they miss out on learning skills that are beneficial in the real world, such as critical thinking. I for one remember hearing , “critical thinking skills” repeated all throughout school As I moved through middle school and high school, I became aware of the sudden changes in learning. It wasn’t about learning these, “critical skills”, it was about memorizing them.

According to an Arizona State University report in the June 22, 2009, edition of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Education Policy & Leadership. Low-performing students are “encouraged to stay home” on test days or “counseled to quit or be suspended” before tests are administered. State education boards are “lowering the bar” — manipulating exam content or scoring so that tests are easier for students to pass. According to education researcher Gregory J. Cizek, anecdotes abound “illustrating how testing… produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both.”

On Mar. 14, 2002, the Sacramento Bee reported that “test-related jitters, especially among young students, are so common that the Stanford-9 exam comes with instructions on what to do with a test booklet in case a student vomits on it.”

According to late education researcher Gerald W. Bracey, PhD, qualities that standardized tests cannot measure include “creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, civic-mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty, integrity.” (Standardized Tests ProCons)

It’s time educational institutions innovate and focus more on skills that will better prepare students for the real world.