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The Pros And Cons Of Standardized Testing In The Us

1508 words - 6 pages

Most students, by the time they reach college, have taken numerous MCA tests (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments), NWEA tests (Northwest Evaluation Association), and either an ACT test (American College Testing) or SAT test (Scholastic Assessment Test), depending on which region of the United States they are from. Webster’s defines a standardized test as “any test in which the same test is given in the same manner to all test takers.” Every student who has had any type of education knows what standardized tests are and what a pain they can be. Our students are given standardized tests starting in elementary school, all the way through high school, and even into college. Standardized testing has been a recurring debate among scholars, teachers, and students alike. There are many reasons to approve of, and put to practice, standardized testing, but there are also many reasons why testing in this way hurts our students. Standardized testing, while it is an effective means of analyzing basic knowledge of a large number of people, should not be practiced within the public school system because it causes more harm that good, it does not accurately test individual knowledge, it limits critical thinking skills, and limits the spectrum in which teachers educate their students.
Peter Sacks, author of Standardized Minds: The High Price of America’s Testing Culture and What We Can Do to Change It, says that, “like a drug addict who knows he should quit, America is hooked.” We are a “nation of standardized-testing junkies.” Since the 1960s, there has been criticism against standardized tests in American education. Sales of standardized tests to public school more than double between 1960 and 1989 to $100 million a year. According to research discussed in Sacks book, in the grade school arena, kindergarten through twelfth grade, there is significant evidence that traditional tests reinforce passive, memorization learning of facts and formulas. This is quite contrary to the active, critical thinking skills many educators are now encouraging. Many scholars suspect the speeded, multiple-choice tests are powerful incentives for compartmentalized and superficial learning (Sacks 9). I agree with these statements almost exclusively. Although multiple-choice tests are easier to a degree, it does not accurately test the critical thinking skills of the students. There is a time and place for everything and I think that multiple-choice tests should be restricted to large lecture courses on Scantron sheets. For the teacher to get an accurate representation of what each student knows, short-answer questions are better suited for that. The teacher is able to see the thought process of the student and determine where the thinking became flawed or confused.
Standardization reduces the quality and quantity of what is taught and learned in schools. The immediate negative effects of standardization are the reduced scope and quality of course content, diminished the role of...

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