Did you know that about 16-20% of students have high test anxiety and another 18% are troubled by mildly-high test anxiety (American Test Anxieties Association)? From a young age, most students have taken standardized tests. Though they are not enjoyed by all, students are forced to take them. They may test knowledge, but they can also affect students’ brains with anxiety and stress. Standardized testing should be limited in schools because teacher instruction is focused on testing, standardized tests only show strengths and weaknesses of groups of students, and standardized tests can positively and negatively affect many families and school corporations.
While students are testing, it’s not just the student that is affected, but the student’s family and, possibly, the entire school corporation. Vogt agrees when he writes about an interview with an English professor who won’t allow her son to take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) because high stake tests are negatively affecting her son, his family, his teachers, his school and, ultimately, the entire educational system (Vogt). Some parents are not big fans of standardized tests, and those parents often choose to opt-out. Opting-out means for a parent or guardian to not permit their child to take the standardized test.This is a way for parents to protest to the school corporations and the state.
While there are bad sides to standardized testing, there are also very positive things that have come out of these tests. Standardized tests have had many goals, but this goal is important: to help students to learn. Standardized tests have been able to show groups of students’ strengths and weaknesses in various school subjects. Records have shown that students at eighth grade level seem to be closer to basic level than proficient level (Nation’s Report Card). This can show teachers that they need to teach their students better, so that all the students would be able to understand all the material.
While the tests definitely show the strengths and weaknesses of groups of students, they don’t show individual strengths and weaknesses. For example, on the Indiana Statewide Testing For Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+), when the results come back, students see how well they did compared to the rest of the state. It doesn’t show individual strengths and weaknesses, but statewide comparisons, which isn’t extremely helpful. Issitt agrees when he writes that while standardized tests offer information about a population, they do not provide data that addresses the achievement of specific individuals (Issitt). This is one of the problems that some parents and students have with standardized tests.
The purpose of teachers is to teach students to help them remember important information about specific subjects. While this is the goal of all teachers, they don’t do it. Many teachers focus their teaching on improving students’ test scores, which is known as teaching the test (Standardized Testing). While it may partially help to improve test scores, it doesn’t help students retain the information. This is something that many parents are trying to get school corporations to fix.
If someone has issues with standardized testing, tell them to go to their superintendent or state representative to try and change standardized testing rules. If they change standardized testing, it may help students not to worry as much. It will help their brains to be released from huge amounts of anxiety and stress from standardized tests. One day, teachers might teach for the students’ benefit, standardized tests could positively impact everyone, and the tests could show individual student improvement, instead of statewide student comparisons. Hopefully, one day standardized testing will be restricted for the good of the students, the parents, the school corporation, and, possibly, the entire world.