Garfield Senior High School

Opinon: The American education system and standardized testing

The debate has risen around the increased use of standardized test to judge students achievements and teacher effectiveness. Some people believe that these tests are the best method to evaluate students while others believe that these nationwide tests provide inaccurate results. So it begs the question — are standardized tests helping or hurting students?

For instance, test taking already creates major stress especially because students feel obligated to perform well to reflect all the hard work they put into a particular class. It’s no wonder many students dislike school, since they develop a negative attitude about their abilities which deteriorates their confidence.

Many students may develop anxiety and depression with the pressures of scoring well on tests falling on their shoulders. As the controversy continues, teachers have reflected on which educational methods best adhere to their students’ academic success.

According to Diane Andrews Henningfeld from her book “Standardized Testing,” she said a great majority of teachers, as well as students, feel that standardized exams offer few opportunities to display the attributes of higher-order thinking, “such as analysis, evaluation and creativity.”

Along the same lines, she also mentions that practicing multiple choice questions is a very poor yardstick for students’ performance. Her perspective is accurate if we open our minds by understanding her argument of having students constantly take these tests that do not reflect how much the student has grown over the course of the year.

Therefore, students should not be obligated to take standardized tests because these exams are not really helping them. Instead, teachers are “teaching to the test” rather than giving students a deeper understanding of a subject. This creates a classroom atmosphere that lacks personal skills such as creativity and cooperation. Standardized tests only measure specific areas like reading, writing and math, thus creating a limited scope of learning and success. 

A piece of paper with a score does not always demonstrate the capacity of everything that a student has learned. It takes eloquent dialogue, critical thinking and participation to truly know a student’s educational abilities. Hence, there should be a stop to standardized testing and a beginning to teacher evaluations.