Problems with standardized testing

When it comes to state achievement tests, graduation tests, the ACT, or the SAT there is a lot at stake. Students, teachers, and school districts are all affected by the outcomes of these tests. With many things on the line people will do anything to save themselves.

Students are directly affected by their personal performance on a test. Knowing that their future will be impacted on how well they can perform can cause extreme amounts of stress and/or anxiety. According to the American Tests Anxieties Association, between 16–20% of students suffer from high test anxiety while another 18% have moderately-high test anxiety. With so much stress some students will go to great lengths to make sure they can perform as well as possible. In some cases students have been caught cheating or using performance drugs to achieve higher scores. These students are willingly putting themselves at risk of being caught cheating or using drugs putting their future in more danger than it already was.

Teachers are also affected by the outcomes of students’ performances on state achievement tests. The outcome can impact their salary and their job security. With their job at risk some teachers will harm their students’ learning by only teaching to the test. Teaching to the test occurs when a teacher only focuses on what could appear on the state achievement tests instead of giving their students a rich curriculum and making sure they have a deep understanding of the subject being taught. This can cause the students to fall behind in future classes since they never had a strong grasp on concepts that were supposed to be taught in prior classes. Some teachers will also resort to cheating to save their job and salary. Students are cheated out of a good education so their teacher can be protected.

When it comes to state testing schools with high test scores receive rewards and benefits. This can lead to schools boosting test scores and more teachers teaching to the test. Some subjects may also be completely overlooked because they are viewed as “not as important” since they are not on the state test. These subjects can include art, social students, history, physical education, music, ect. They are inferior to the subjects that are on the test such as math, reading, and science. Students are not receiving a well rounded education when schools only prioritize subjects that are on the state test. School districts receive the rewards of high scoring students while the students receive nothing.

The list definitely goes on about why standardized testing is problematic. America should take a step back and reexamine how well our students are being educated. A rich and deep understanding of important materials should be a higher priority than rewards and high test scores. All students deserve the right to receive the best education possible.

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Grace O'Donnell

My name is Grace O’Donnell, this blog is for my English Composition II class at the University of Akron.