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The Debate Over Standardized Testing Essay

1307 words - 5 pages

In classrooms all across America, students sit perched over their desks in the process of taking standardized tests. As the students take the tests, teachers pace nervously up and down the rows of their classroom, hoping and praying that their students can recall the information which they have presented. Some children sit relaxed at their desks, calmly filling in the bubbles and answering essay questions. These children are well prepared and equipped to handle their tests. Other children, however, sit hunched over their desks, pondering over questions, trying to guess an answer. They struggle to recall information that has been covered many times in class, but they can’t.

Standardized tests are used in classrooms all throughout America, and many people have their own opinions about the ability of tests to reflect the true learning capabilities of our children. Two opposing articles on this subject appeared in At Issue (2012), a book which was published by Greenhaven Press. In “Standardized Tests Effectively Measure Student Achievement,” an article within this book, Herbert Walberg, who has taught at Harvard University as well as the University of Illinois at Chicago for a total of thirty-five years, argues that standardized tests adequately measure student achievement. In contrast, Phillip Harris, Bruce Smith, and Joan Harris’s article, “Standardized Tests Do Not Effectively Measure Student Achievement,” argues that standardized tests are not able to accurately measure student achievement. The main points where Herbert Walberg disagrees with Harris Harris, and Smith are: (1) what tests are able to measure; and (2) the consequences of standardized testing.

Herbert Walberg disagrees with Harris, Harris, and Smith about the measuring capabilities of standardized tests. In Herbert Walberg’s article he states that "standardized tests fairly and comprehensively measure student performance" (Par. 1). To support this claim he further states, “Research and experience show that standardized tests are generally good at measuring students’ knowledge, skills, and understanding because they are objective, fair, efficient, and comprehensive” (Par. 3). On the contrary, Harris, Harris, and Smith state that “Achievement is more than test scores but also includes class participation, students’ course-taking patterns, and teachers’ professional development patterns” (Par. 6) They also believe student achievement involves more than scores on standardized tests. In fact, these three authors see the usage of test scores to measure student achievement as a “Dangerous Illusion” (Par. 3). To support this claim the three authors list a variety of concepts which cannot be measured with standardized tests, such as creativity, critical thinking, curiosity, motivation, reliability, self-discipline, and leadership (Par. 8). They also explain how all of these qualities are considered valuable by our society (Par. 9). Walberg fires back by saying, “Responsible...

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