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Why America's Educational System Is Failing

1474 words - 6 pages

The United States of America has placed low on the educational ladder throughout the years. The cause of such a low ranking is due to such heavy emphasis on standardized testing and not individual student achievement. Although the United States uses standardized testing as a crutch, it is not an effective measure of a student’s ability, a teacher’s competency, or a school’s proficiency.
Cheating can be a common routine in a classroom—from copying work on homework to copying answers on a test. “Cheating by teachers and administrators on standardized tests is rare, and not a reason to stop testing America's children” (Standardized Tests). This statement is proved false by the fact that thirty-seven states have been caught cheating by “encouraging teachers to view upcoming test forms before they are administered” (“FairTest Press Release: Standardized Exam Cheating in 37 States And D.C., New Report Shows Widespread Test Score Corruption”). If teachers can view a test before it is administered, they can teach to the test so that their students’ scores are higher. Teachers who have viewed the test can then “drill students on actual upcoming test items” (“FairTest Press Release: Standardized Exam Cheating in 37 States And D.C., New Report Shows Widespread Test Score Corruption”). This is morally wrong since teachers who do not have the access to an actual test or those who refuse to view it do not know what would be on the test and cover a broad domain of material, not just specifics.
Even with material being taught incessantly, standardized tests can not accurately measure a student’s ability. The tests are “single-target—meaning that every student, no matter what level of achievement or ability, course selection, or curricular preference, must meet only one common standard of performance” (Phelps). According to John Chubb, most nations that outperform U.S. students use tests that assess a broader and deeper curriculum, using tests that demand writing and other forms of work, not just the multiple-choice responses that have dominated the U.S. assessments, mandatory and elective, over the past few decades. Having a test that only requires a student to meet a single standard cannot precisely judge a student’s ability in school. The United States “sets a single academic-achievement target” (Phelps) while other European nations “acknowledge children’s differences by offering a range of academic options and multiple achievement targets” (Phelps). Some students do better in mathematics while others succeed more in English; setting the same exact standard for every single student to meet causes those who excel more in a certain subject to be above those that might excel more in a differing subject.
Not only is the test single-standard, “not all subjects are or can be tested, and even within tested subject areas, only certain skills readily conform to standardized testing” (Corcoran). A student who surpasses others in a music or art...

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