Thoughts of a Retired Teacher on Standardized Testing

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Spring, the time to think of, playing and being out in the sun however, in classrooms around the country, students are in test mode. They have been practicing for the entire school year to take the standardized tests that will decide their future.

These tests are given to students from the third grade until high school to check their proficiency in reading and math. I personally believe that testing has an important role in deciding if a student has understood the material that they have been taught. My problem is with one test being given at one time to all students. The amount of pressure on children as young as seven to perform well is intense. From the first day of school until the testing day, they are preparing to take the “test”. They are well aware that how they do on the test, decides which class they will be assigned to for the following year. A high score they go to the advanced class, or a low one the slow class. Perhaps, they may be retained in the same grade? So many decisions are placed on one test.

Some children are good test takers, others are not. I have seen children who are sick with fever taking the test because their parents know it’s important. How well, can a child do on a standardized test when they’re sick? Some children come to school hungry and concentrating is difficult. Some young children decide they don’t want to take the test and refuse to do so. Others fill in blanks and within minutes of starting the test they are finished. Just how well can they do?

What can be done to make sure that students feel comfortable about taking the standardized tests? I think that instead of taking a test once a year, testing should be done throughout the year. There could be a test in the beginning of the school year, one in the middle and one at the end. In this way not only are the students more comfortable, because they know what the tests are like but we can measure whether they have improved their learning by seeing the progress through the year.

The teacher, who has spent months and hours with these students, should also be listened to. They have insight into the student and can attest to whether the child does well in class but maybe he freezes up on tests. Teachers, not only teach we also test our students throughout the year with formal tests, classroom discussions and one on one interaction. They want to teach not only the curriculum but that learning can be fun. In this atmosphere that is very hard to do. When everything the students and teachers do from September until April and May is spent in getting ready for a test there is no time to enjoy learning.

I truly believe that all children should be tested to make sure they are mastering the subjects needed to succeed in the 21st century. I believe there high stakes standardized tests once a year is not the way to do it.

Author – V. Fuller – Queens NY