We All Shine Differently

Standardized testing requirements are designed to hold teachers, students, and schools accountable for academic achievement and to incentivize improvement. They provide a benchmark for assessing problems and measuring progress, highlighting areas for improvement.

Despite these key benefits, standardized academic achievement tests in US public schools have been controversial since their inception. Major points of contention have centered on who should design and administer tests (federal, state, or district level), how often they should be given, and whether they place some school districts at an advantage or disadvantage. More critically, parents and educators have questioned whether standardized tests are fair to teachers and students.

Standardized testing requirements are designed to hold teachers, students, and schools accountable for academic achievement and to incentivize improvement. They provide a benchmark for assessing problems and measuring progress, highlighting areas for improvement.

Despite these key benefits, standardized academic achievement tests in US public schools have been controversial since their inception. Major points of contention have centered on who should design and administer tests (federal, state, or district level), how often they should be given, and whether they place some school districts at an advantage or disadvantage. More critically, parents and educators have questioned whether standardized tests are fair to teachers and students.

Standardized tests are thought to be fair because every student takes the same test and evaluations are largely objective, but a one-size-fits-all approach to testing is arguably biased because it fails to account for variables such as language deficiencies, learning disabilities, difficult home lives, or varying knowledge of US cultural conventions. (https://soeonline.american.edu/blog/effects-of-standardized-testing)

With a few of these disadvantages in mind, there are alternatives for standardized testing that have been pulled together by experts:

  1. Sampling: administering standardized tests to a random sample of students, instead of all students every year
  2. Stealth Assessments: another way to collect reading and math scores; digital programs that students complete throughout the year in order to show progress over time
  3. Multiple Measures: collecting other data in order to track student progress, rather than relying on one standardized test
    1. social and emotional skills survey
    2. game-based assessments
    3. performance/portfolio-based assessments
  4. Inspections: different approaches to assessments including projects, reports, presentations, etc. (https://sites.psu.edu/kyleescivicissues/2021/02/12/the-problem-with-standardized-testing/)

The overemphasis on testing has led many teachers to eliminate projects and activities that provide students with an opportunity to be creative and imaginative, and scripted curriculum has become the norm in many classrooms. There is nothing creative or imaginative about filling in a bubble sheet for a multiple choice test. Students are so tired of prepping for and taking standardized test that some have protested by dressing up like zombies to protest — and thousands of families are opting their children out of taking high-stakes exams.

Every student is a unique individual with their own talents and abilities. The standardized testing regime fails to recognize the importance of individual achievement in education and instead uses a “cookie cutter” approach to learning that ignores students’ individual interests and abilities.