What's Wrong With Standardized Testing Anyway?

In a previous blog post we stated, "Standardized testing has its place in education, however, it is insufficient and has the potential for far-reaching unintended consequences." Here we'll discuss 4 detrimental outcomes of standardized testing.


Misuse of Data

Standardized tests used to rank learners, faculty and schools assess a few limited proficiencies but falls short of measuring what we value as learning – that which is educationally significant. This singular method does not factor in varying student conditions and environmental factors that impact scoring. In addition, grading practices are inconsistent state to state and scorers are often encouraged to favor quantity over quality reviews.

Misuse of Resources – Every year we forfeit big bucks to test publishing companies who sell and re-sell collections of test items nationwide. What would happen if we could invest those hundreds of millions of dollars into innovative and meaningful school programs and learning spaces? More than half of the average 180 schools days are devoted to test preparation and helping learners commit to memory concepts that are largely disconnected from their experiences and generally apart from that which is genuinely useful. What could our students achieve if we invested more time developing their capacity to think critically, communicate effectively and be self-motivated to collaborate and seek solutions? The possibilities are worth exploring.
Suppression of Innovation and Creativity - The effect that standardized testing has on educators should also be considered. Ideally, our schools would attract and retain teaching professionals who are motivated and enthusiastic about contributing their unique skills and talents to the important work of education. More and more however, we are experiencing a decline in teacher program enrollment and candidates for new teaching positions. What’s more, while existing teachers are seeking flexibility, creative challenge and meaning in their professional lives, the current system rewards them only for teaching kids how to test.
Discouraging Teamwork and Supporting Isolation - Emphasis on value-added modeling to assess performance has the potential to create distance between teachers. The models are designed to compare and make distinctions between teachers based on student test scores year-to-year, and they’re meant to be interpreted as an evaluation of a teacher’s contribution to student progress in a defined span of time. What is doesn’t factor or encourage is a team contribution to learner outcomes. In fact, some faculty members have been urged not to work together, as not to distort the results.


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