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Are Standardized Tests Destroying Lives?

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Are Standardized Tests Destroying Lives?

By Linda Dobson

standardized tests

UPDATE! The adult who took the standardized test felt this is important enough to reveal his identity! Please visit here!

Over the last few decades, our public school system has devolved into a standardized test driven nightmare for children, families, and our society. More recently, political powers-that-be are pushing to additionally make standardized tests a nightmare for teachers, too, with increasing cries to link job performance to the children’s scores.

Indeed, the standardized tests craze has gotten to the point where one school chose to ignore science, history, geography and heaven knows what else to spend the entire year teaching its third graders only that which appeared on these tests. School systems across the country have been caught in cheating scandals, some of which had “eraser” parties as teachers gathered informally to “fix” the students’ standardized tests.

Enter a school board member in one of the largest school district’s in the country who happens to be a friend of educator and author Marion Brady. This friend took “his state’s high-stakes standardized math and reading tests for 10th graders, and said he’d make his scores public,” explains Brady in a Washington Post blog article titled “When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids.”

School Board Member Volunteers to Take Standardized Tests

Whatever you think about school board members in general, Brady assures us that his friend is a successful adult. I won’t keep you in suspense. Here’s what the friend e-mailed to Brady after he received his test scores.

“I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote in an email. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

Standardized Tests Have No Basis In Reality

Take just a moment and read that sub-heading one more time: Standardized tests have no basis in reality.

“I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.

“It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I’d actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn’t that miss the point? A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.”

Parents, not only are schools teaching to the standardized tests, a successful businessman queried his friends to confirm his observation that what is being taught and tested has no practical application in the adult life the students will soon be living. Why, then, are schools – increasingly a hot bed for bullies, torment, and esteem-busting humiliation –  taking up such a vast amount of children’s time in what could very well be the greatest con of all time? (Don’t forget this is taking place as always-increasing, absurd amounts of taxpayers’ money supports it.)

Standardized Tests Being Created by Individuals Who Lack Perspective and Aren’t Accountable

“If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.

“It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty? Using what criteria? To whom did they have to defend their decisions? As subject-matter specialists, how qualified were they to make general judgments about the needs of this state’s children in a future they can’t possibly predict? Who set the pass-fail “cut score”? How?”

“I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”

This is a strong and serious indictment of standardized tests. There is no question that the lives of a certain percentage of school-goers will be destroyed by this game. Again, I ask why? Isn’t it easy enough to find those unaccountable individuals without perspective and tell them to go into banking, instead? As the standardized tests and their scores have no basis in current reality, we need to ask how they could possibly be of any use in a future reality “they can’t possibly predict.”

See also “‘Til School Do Us Part

It’d be one thing if these tests were merely irrelevant, but that’ s not the case. These tests are harmful, and are taking up so much space in schools there’s too little room left for anything resembling an education that helps young adults become independent, self-sufficient contributing members of society.

As a tax payer, you must seek to learn why. As a parent, you must seek to understand why you allow this to happen to your children.



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2 Responses to “Are Standardized Tests Destroying Lives?”

  1. Arwen says:

    A friend told me that when they lived in Texas, the pressure to perform well on standardized tests was so intense it was making her daughter physically ill. This was several years ago too, before the most recent standards and “high stakes” stuff.

  2. Kaycee says:

    I recently pulled my son (age 10) from public school, with these tests being a major reason for my decision. At one point he took 4 tests in one day. I was never notified about them, what they were about, or how they were used. He was so wired and stressed, the pressure so intense. When I took these issues to the school, I was basically told that he tests so well, and they don’t last very long, which I took to mean, “He has to suck it up so our stats will be high.” They told me he would be tested every 2 weeks! They didn’t care that these tests where destroying him, they ruined school for him. (Now that he is free-educating at home, and I see how empowered it makes him, I regret not doing it sooner.) The only way this is going to change is if all parents work hard to opt out. If every child is removed from the tests, maybe tbtb will wake up.

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