President Bush is promoting annual standardized testing for all students in grades three through eight in order to assess their academic achievements. This bill is currently being considered in Congress, and has garnered much support from individuals in the community. As of right now, fifteen states test students in those grades, and more than twenty have high school exit exams.
Exit exams look only at the test score of a student, not at his or her academic achievements throughout High School, and in many cases, people are either over- or underrepresented by their test scores. This occurs partly because America does not currently have the capabilities of fairly scoring the increasing number of tests, even though the companies creating and scoring the tests enjoy a large profit. The number of companies creating these tests is pitifully small. Adding to the lack of validity of the scores of these tests is the fact that many students today are not native English speakers, and their capabilities could be grossly underestimated by these types of exams, and there is a strong racial bias involved in most major tests. But, the biggest and most troubling problem with standardized testing is how it affects the learning that takes place in the classroom. This leads to the question of just how standardized we want our schools to be.
Standardized tests are nothing but hurtful, and America should make a move away from them, especially since they are expensive and ineffective. We cannot expect to solve the problems in our educational system this way. We want our children to leave school with knowledge and understanding that will allow them to be successful. That is not currently the case. While using standardized testing as an assessment of students will create immediate, short term results, it will solve nothing in the long run. Instead of wasting our time and money on further development of and dependency on standardized tests, we need to research more effective alternatives.
You would think that exit exams would be a good idea since they will test what the student has learned in high school, and how well they have retained that information. Many states do require a student to pass a certain test in order to receive a diploma. But, rather than prove how much students know, this can result in many capable students, who have finished all of their requirements, being denied their diplomas. If the Valedictorian does not pass the exit exam, are you going to bar him or her from graduating? After all, it is a fact that some people are better at taking tests than other people. Intelligent students who challenge themselves throughout their high school careers and have high grade point averages can do poorly on a test, while a student who has only taken basic level classes can score significantly higher. Is that a fair representation of what was achieved in high school?
With tests being so...