Does standardized test measure students academic performance or should they be completely eliminated from school systems?Teachers have gotten away from "good teaching" and are more focused on...

Does standardized test measure students academic performance or should they be completely eliminated from school systems?

Teachers have gotten away from "good teaching" and are more focused on teaching the test.  This question has come up but it seems the issue has always been avoided.  Does anybody care about the education of their children anymore?

Expert Answers
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The problem of standardized testing is not the test itself; it is the fact that it is mandated by legislators who control school budgets. Legislators apparently can only determine student progress by means of measurable test results. This is a handy yard stick for them to measure how schools are educating students, even though it may not measure how much a student has actually "learned."

I vehemently disagree with the above post that standardized tests "make sure we are getting out students to learn." The problem is that the test becomes an end into itself. Teachers who themselves are often measured by the standardized test scores of their students are then inclined to teach to the test rather than teach the material. Certainly all teachers have certain fields of interest which they emphasize more than others; however the writers of standardized tests do the same thing. It is senseless to expect one who never sees a child to measure how much the child has learned, much less how much the teacher has taught. We have created something of a golden calf to satisfy the politicians, and our students and teachers are the poorer for it. And to answer the question posted, yes, teachers do care very much about the education of their children. The problem is that they are handicapped, threatened, and cajoled by administrators to have their students "perform" on standardized tests. As long as we emphasize testing over learning, our students will suffer. Voltaire said it best: "l'erasez L'infame!"


literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let's face it...most teachers hate standardized testing.  I have many problems with these types of tests.  First, we, as teachers, are required to make substantial modifications to material for students with IEPs. This is not where my issues lie. Instead, it is with the testing.  Not nearly enough is done to help these students with standardized testing.  So we can modify, but the tests do not (minor modifications- such as extended time and read-aloud).  Another problem that lies here are the schools with high Special Education percentages.  Without substantial modifications to the testing to HELP our  special needs students, high percentages of Special Education test takers may lower the overall scores. Second, some students are simply not good test takers.  I have many students who can explain certain aspects of literature to me in their own words, but when it comes to testing, sometimes fail given the format of the test (I am working on this- ; )).  Lastly, many districts are requiring teachers to "teach to the test".  These schools have the fear of AYP hanging over their heads, that and academic probation-which leads to firings as we have seen (think Rhode Island).  With the new Common Core standards, I have heard that the testing is going to change soon. Let's hope if it stays around, those "up there" will think about the students and create better tests.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
While I agree that we need to have some standardization in our education system, I don't think the current standardized tests are working. Students who know the material but do not test well can fail. Students who do not know the material might pass just by understanding how to guess the answers on this type of test. There are also several loop-holes in this testing. In the school I worked with, students could fail the test but be passed by work in their portfolio. The idea behind this was to help special needs students who would not be able to pass. Unfortunately, it was often used to pass apathetic students who would likely pull down the school's score by failing the test multiple times. On the flip side, students who failed by a few points are supposed to be able to retake the test. Since these retakes don't count towards the school's score, some schools force these students to retake the entire class so their passing scores will help the school. The focus becomes the test and the school's score rather than what is best for the student's education.
lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If one standardized test is supposed to be "what the students are to know" then what about all of the learning that happens outside the stuff on that one test?  Standardized tests are only one way to measure skill achievement -- as stated above -- an easy measure for those outside of education to judge.  I also have a very hard time believing that ONE test on ONE day should be the only measure of what a student knows.  The results of a standardized testcould be ONE important piece of data in regards to how a student is doing in school, and I don't think they should be eliminated, but the actual achievement of a student should be a measure of each individual student's growth over the course of time.  The test, in combination with other assessments that hit on other of the student's multiple intelligences seems a much more accurate picture of student achievement.

childele eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with lmetcalf, "The results of a standardized test could be ONE important piece of data in regards to how a student is doing in school."  The problem is that many teachers and many administrators have lost focus on this fact.  The "high stakes" arena has caused that to happen. I teach in Ohio and our third and fourth graders are currently in the midst of taking the Ohio Achievement Assessment.  I've seen so much test prep in the past three weeks... Packets and packets of practice for 8, 9 and 10 year old kids.  This really goes against any learning theory that I've learned.  Children learn from experential, brain-based instruction.  When a teacher creates an environment where higher order thinking and divergent thinking are priorities, the test scores will take care of themselves.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Standardized testing is necessary, at least to some degree; however, it is a system full of flaws. Standardized tests do not measure all skill sets or even the potential to learn and achieve. They are often designed to "trick" students (look at any spelling portion of such tests--it's primarily the exceptions, not the rules) and only indicate a student's performance on one given day. Standardized tests are best used, I think, to measure progress--and even that is still flawed.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having just finished our state mandated testing with both my freshman and sophomore students, I will tell you that I am once again disgruntled that our state would be this obscene amount of pressure on one test with 45 multiple choice questions. This is almost as disgruntling as the poster who made the sweeping generalization that "Teachers have gotten away from 'good teaching' . . . Does anybody care about the education of their children anymore?"

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Standardized tests are not the problem. High stakes attached to the test scores are the problem. If teachers are teaching well and then administer general standardized tests, that would be one thing. But to take a test that is not even testing the same thing teachers teach in the classroom in the same way and base a school and teacher's reputation on it creates the problems we have now.
kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think they should be eliminated because they haven't ever measured or connected to anything real.  People always like to talk about student "achievement" but no one can tell us what that really means.

Our students also just finished a pilot test session on top of all the others they've taken this year and it just makes for a torture session.  And what does it accomplish?

shrinath | Student

I think standerdized tests in the academics do check the acedemic-performance of a student in a better way if all schools inculcate an all-round,well balanced,structured tests.But the scenario changes if teachers dont work well in making students involved and encouraged in the curriculum because the purpose and struggle in making a well structured test fails.At this juncture,academic system may tend to loosen its belt to get raise the acedmic performances of schools. Eliminating school system can be substituted by innovating and improving it in a more scintific as well as humanitarian way.

krcavnar | Student

I agree to some extent that standardized tests "keep us honest" or at least on our toes so that we do teach the concepts all students should know.  However, I do not agree that we should use these tests as the "measuring stick" for whether a teacher or a student is performing well.  It seems to me that 20 years ago the average student knew so much more than the students today but we did had one standardized test which essentially grouped us according to a nationwide norm and I don't remember our teachers preparing us for this test in any manner.  We spend entirely too much classroom time dealing with testing instead of challenging our children to think.   I think we should have some type of general testing, but I believe that the average yearly progress of the student should be considered.