Scantron pictured with a pencil on it.

Morgan Payne

Standardized Test or Standardized Stress?

September 10, 2019

About three or more times a year, we as students are forced to take standardized tests over math, english, social studies, and science. We drag ourselves out of bed that morning dreading the hours of constant testing to come. We are told the night before to get some sleep and eat a good breakfast, so we do. Then, we sharpen our number 2 pencils and head off to school in anticipation of the long day ahead. 

Over 100 years ago, the government decided to narrow down the curriculum taught to us, ergo adding to the stress of our already tired, overworked selves and underpaid teachers. They expect us to remember everything we are taught in the span of a year and be able to regurgitate it onto these standardized tests. 

The government did not take into account that there are children who have learning disabilities, or some who do not speak the language at all. When students like these do poorly because they are unable to understand or retain the information, the results are reflected poorly upon the teachers and the school.

Taking matters to another level, George W. Bush created the No Child Left Behind Policy in 2002, which is a federal law that grants money to lower income students to push for improvements in their academics. This act holds our schools accountable for our academic progress, thus making them convert to the “teach to the test” method; this is where teachers only teach the things that we have to know for our standardized test. 

Very few would stray away from these guidelines, in fear that their schools would be shut down or lose their Title 1 funding. Since teachers have started “teaching the test,” the emphasis on subjects such as music and art is lessening so the attention can be focused on the concrete subjects. 

All of this information proves the point that as long as it has been around, standardized testing has been stripping us of our creativity. Teachers drill information into us in hopes that we will all get perfect scores so they can keep their jobs. 

In reality, we are all different; we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Some may be mathematical geniuses, and some may just be amazing musicians. Standardized testing is not made to help us academically improve: it is set in place to try to make us all the same. Really, we all need to have the freedom to be who we are and go to a school where the curriculum is built around the student. 

If we built the curriculum around the student, I think it would make the student body as a whole enjoy school more. They would not feel have to feel like everything is a competition and they wouldn’t feel like they were tested to death. 

In Finland, the teachers are specifically chosen out of the top ten percent of the nation’s graduates to earn a degree in education. These teachers normally see each student as a challenge to help. They try one method of teaching, and if that does not work, they try another type until the student has a good idea of how this student learns best. Rather than teaching to the test, they teach to the student. 

Finland doesn’t give any standardized testing until the end of their senior year of high school when they have to take the National Matriculation Examination, which does matter a lot, but the students are very prepared for it. 

Think about it: if we took standardized testing away and had teachers who taught to help us, we may actually be more motivated to learn. If we didn’t feel like everything was a competition, we may actually enjoy going to school. Everyday we would wake up knowing that the curriculum is based around us, not a standardized test.

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