True Story: When I was in tenth grade, science was the bane of my existence (actually, it was the archenemy of my entire academic life). As such, my parents had legitimately grave concerns that I would not pass the Regents exam — a required test in particular subjects for all public schools kids in certain grades in New York — in chemistry at the end of the year.
So I was forced to do something I was loathe to do: study. As much as I prepared, however, if I had been lucky and the stars were aligned just so, I would have passed by a point or two. Maybe. But on the morning of the exam my dad woke me up to the news that the answers to the test had been stolen and were printed on the front page of the New York Post. The exam was canceled, and all students had the choice to take the exam at the end of the summer instead. Or not. After a year of intensive prep, guess what I did? I opted for not. I’m dumb, but not that dumb.
A mom in Pennsylvania declared her kids shouldn’t have to take the mandatory state tests, claiming they’re not accurate measures of accomplishments and create undue anxiety for students. This Pennsylvania mom is my new hero.
Michele Gray pulled her kids out of the two-week long standardized test given by her state as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Law using the only exemption available: religious objections.
But she said it’s not because of anything related to God. “The more I look at standardized tests, the more I realize that we have, as parents, been kind of sold a bill of goods,” she said to CNN
Standardized tests just aren’t an accurate picture of a student’s ability. They’re just not. They are an indicator of how well a student takes a standardized test. And for someone like me who has a fair amount of smarts combined with a penchant for choking under pressure, it was a particular kind of torture to prepare for and undergo the rigorous testing procedures each year. I learned nothing but to hate taking standardized tests.
Testing advocates say such exams are necessary to hold U.S. schools to a higher standard in order to compete with countries like China and India. I call B.S. Pay better teachers more money and give kids a reason to want to learn. Then see how well they do.
I’m not saying I necessarily advocate all parents pulling their kids from standardized tests in a show of protest, but I think the education system needs to come up with a different method of comparing kids in one school or state or country to another. Other than memorizing facts for tests that I could not have repeated five minutes after time was up (except for a few choice SAT words), I can think of nothing I gained from the standardized testing experience other than feelings of extreme self-doubt and worthlessness.
Even President Obama acknowledges the need for change, with his administration recently announcing a $300 million grant to revamp standardized test. “There will be testing,” he said. “We can have accountability without rigidity — accountability that still encourages creativity inside the classroom, and empowers teachers and students and administrators.”
How do you feel about standardized tests?
Image: Creative Commons