Standardized tests should be put to rest

Garrett Cash, Editor-in-Chief

There is no excuse for the way America’s students are treated in today’s day and age. Developed in early China, standardizing testing has been used throughout the centuries to judge how well people conform to an ideal. Riffing off the Chinese method used to test government workers on Confucian knowledge, Frederick J. Kelly established the first standardized achievement test in the industrial United States. With a shortage of teachers off fighting a World War and a rapid influx of students into the school systems,  America needed a way to pump students out as fast as their assembly lines pushed out products. The response: standardized testing.

The rigid tests judged how well students performed in the subjects of math, English, science and social studies. If they passed, they could move on, and if they didn’t, they stayed where they were. Seeing how cookie-cutter the students were becoming, Kelly immediately disowned the idea that the tests were the right solution, but he was too late. Americans grasped the ideal and implemented it into every crook and crevice of the western education system.

Standardized testing was shoved further down the throats of American students after George W. Bush’s administration established the “No Child Left Behind Act.” This legislation required all states to administer a standardized test that the state developed to the student body at the end of every year to judge academic performance. The only way for the states to receive funding was to administer these tests. If the school did not show any improvement in the test scores by students every year, the federal government came in and “fixed” the school’s “issue.” There was no issue. Students of a certain grade level, let’s say seventh, had to perform better than the last year’s seventh graders in order for the school to be seen fit to continue in their administration of education. Students were expected to reach higher than previously thought without the correct tools to succeed.

The “No Child Left Behind Act” was reformed, but still resembles itself closely. While seen as brilliant, all these acts do are leave children behind. The test is catered to white English-speaking Americans. The test does not provide any help to those of different ethnic groups. Students must learn English or they are completely left behind.

But wait, it gets even better.

Seeing the fallacy in the “No Child Left Behind Act,” the Obama administration took every action in order to repeal it. They did next to nothing. The new act called the “Every Student Succeeds Act” still requires standardized testing from third to eighth grade. The only difference between this legislation and the last is that under the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” the states become more responsible for the education, relieving the federal government of the duty.

You would think in a full century that America had progressed enough to see the problems in their education system. It did not. Under the current “Every Student Succeeds Act,” students are still shoved into a box, or rather, a Scantron circle, and expected to succeed. The education system isn’t tailored to the individual student as it should be, but rather, it’s stuck in the Industrial Revolution and still trying to manufacture students. In our current day and age, with society as morally prickly as ever, why has this not changed?

The reason America is stuck in the past is because they only see the good part of the products of their development. They see the transition from a Model T to a Lamborghini, the car phone to a smartphone and the cottage to a skyscraper. But what they fail to see is how the classroom has remained the same.

A common argument to the point that standardized testing is wrong would be to tell someone to look at the advancements the United States has made with the cookie-cutter classroom. This is a flawed argument. The most brilliant entrepreneurs to come out of America despised our education system to such a degree that they up and left their classrooms in pursuit of their dreams. Take Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for example. Both Jobs and Gates dropped out of school and continued on to make the most profitable companies in the world.

“But not everyone is as brilliant as Jobs and Gates!” Incorrect. People are geniuses in their own way, and the educational system is not tailored to meet people’s strength. You may have an atrocious grade in math, but be the most brilliant linguist the world has ever seen, and the school system still wouldn’t care because you didn’t pass their test to prove you’re “smart.”

The current classroom seems to have facilitated the exponential technological growth that we see today, but it didn’t. It was the rebels that brought us to where we are; we are this advanced because of those who didn’t conform. And if you disagree with this, that’s okay, although I encourage you to take a look around. What have we lost to get where we are? There are multiple shootings across the country daily, the Earth is dying from the pollution, and an election deciding between a narcissist and tyrant recently concluded.

Standardized testing creates a classroom fit to meet academic achievement, but there is not a speck of morality education. If you believe the classroom of the past is right, you’re dead wrong. With that classroom we’ve made leaps and bounds, but we’ve degraded so far in the process that it will become obsolete if nothing changes. Nobody in the past was educated on what was right and wrong, so evil people have come to power and we’re murdering our planet all because of standardized testing. Whatever attempts parents and religious institutes have made to educate students morally have been washed down the drain. They fly right over the youth’s head; they don’t care. All they care about is the almighty “A.”

Frederick J. Kelly stated, “These tests are too crude to be used and should be abandoned,” shortly after he developed them. If the person behind our standardized life said that these tests are wrong, they should be done away with immediately.

 

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