Editorial: Standardized tests hurt American schools

Clare Canavan, Copy Editor

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Students around the United States are being forced to cram their minds with formulas and tricks to do their best on standardized tests while many will  never use those skills again. Many schools across the country have protested against standardized testing for a variety of different reasons. Standardized testing is unnecessary and needs to be changed.

Schools around the United States try to promote a learning environment where students can talk to their peers, ask questions, and use the resources around them to enhance their learning. During standardized tests, there is no talking, questions, or resources. According to James D. Kirylo, a professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, the standardized testing environment is “an incredibly toxic environment in our schools and in our discourse about education, ultimately turning schools from learning centers to testing factories.”

Furthermore, a study by Wynne Harlen and Dr. Ruth Deakin-Crick of Bristol University found that constant testing encourages even successful students to see the goals of education in terms of passing tests rather than developing an understanding of what they are learning, supporting previous research done in the United States.

The tests do not provide the results to the schools, students, and teachers until months after taking the exam. When the students finally receive the results, there is no feedback on how to perform better. The results simply state the score you received, and no feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. A study done by Boston College found that about 40 percent of surveyed students said they could raise their test scores without improving their real knowledge.

In addition to the tests giving students no practical feedback, the tests do not show the students’s full creativity. The tests have one correct answer. A student who has a more creative mind and writes a creative answer in the test booklet will be marked incorrect because it does not follow the “proper” format. Useful skills like creativity, teamwork, and work ethic are tested by standardized tests.

Many students do not perform well on standardized tests. Why?  Stress. According to US News and World Report some students experience a severe type of stress during testing.  It causes the brain to shift into a “fight or flight” response. The brain becomes overwhelmed and the higher-order thinking process that is necessary to correctly answer the test questions simply doesn’t function well. So many students score poorly simply because of testing stress.

To change the way the schools are “tested” contact your Congressman or find out your representative, using whoismyrepresentative.com, and tell them how they should change the legislation to help our schools and students.