Standardized Tests Are Hurting, Not Helping Our Kids


Standardized tests have become the norm, the measure of our child's abilities, and the be-all, end-all of a school's worth. If a school can't pass a certain percentage of their kids, then they are not deemed a good school. Well, one adult man has blown the lid wide open on what standardized tests really prove and the answer is this: Not much.

A school board member at one of the largest school districts in the US took the test every 10th grader in his district has to take to pass through high school. The results were alarming. This is a man with a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate. He helps to oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and he is able to "make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities." And yet he couldn't pass these tests without being placed in remedial instruction in both reading and math.

Something is so very wrong with that system.

Both of my children are currently too young to be dealing with these things. Neither has taken any standardized tests, but when I was in school, I always tested very highly, which is why I ended up in honors classes and thinking of myself as a "smart" kid.

Because of this, I took the SAT early and ended up getting very good scores once I took it for real. I went to a good college and graduate school, and all of those things can be traced back to the path I was put on in the fifth grade and all of that was because of how I tested.

Maybe if I had to pass these tests, though, my life would have been different. Maybe I would have failed or been made to think I wasn't as smart as someone else. It's hard to imagine a whole life could be altered and changed because of some test scores, which in no way actually prove that a person will or will not be a success.

It's scary that we rely so much on these kinds of tests. We allow them to tell us who our children are and where they will go. The fact is, some people just don't test well. Others test well, but they aren't smart in the areas that count. No one can test for emotional intelligence and that is a key part of overall success in life.

We are going down a scary path in education if we rely too much on standardized tests, and I fear for my children if one of them (or both of them) happens not to test well. What then? Are they remedial then just because they get the same score as a highly successful grown-up with two masters degrees?

We really need to rethink the way standardized tests work.

Do you believe in standardized tests?


Image via isox4/Flickr

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Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I am all for them. I'm also all for the MCAS being a graduation requirement. Have you ever taken it? They have a practice test on their website so I took it one day. I've been out of high school for 15 years yet I still managed to ace it easily. It's really not hard, it's something that anyone preparing to graduate high school should be able to pass. A high school diploma should mean something. Having one should be a sign that you are able to do basic math and use the English language, not just that you managed to show up to school most days.

ashja ashja

Agree with RhondaVeggie. Too many kids are passed on to graduation because they showed up, put forth a little effort, and were nice kids.That's just not good enough. When colleges have to offer remedial classes, something is wrong. It's getting to the point that a bachelor's degree doesn't even mean much because anyone can get into college. There should be a weeding-out process, and basic standardized tests, particularly at graduation, can achieve that.

Rebecca Peterson

Yeah, but it's easy to "cheat" some standardized tests. We had to take the ISAT all through elementary school, jr high and in high school if you pass it when you're a sophomore you don't have to take it again, though my senior year English class still taught what was going to be on the ISAT and that's all the class was. I miss the days of actually learning about things in class, rather than learning what's on the next test, because not every one tests the same.

Char_... Char_gal4

Those tests were TORTURE.  I was in my aide's classroom for my testing, and the wonky scheduling messed with me.  I had permission (via IEP for Asperger's Syndrome) to have an aide walk me through the empty halls if I got stressed.  To this day, I still test rather poorly.  The worst was the Practice ACT, which my class had to take in the auditorium.  I went to my aide, but I was told I had to take it in the auditorium.  I shut down, and it was a good while before a teacher noticed and got me out of there and to my aide.  Plus, standardized testing is too easy to hack, and takes up too much time that should be for REAL teaching!

momto... momtolittleg

As a teacher, I think there should be a reasonable balance of testing and performance tasks/portfolio assessment.  I think assessment is very important for learning AND teaching, but that standardized tests are not the best way to measure learning for all students.  However, it is the most efficient (in time and money), hence it is the standard. I just don't have to time to individually assess all 23 kids in my 2nd grade class.  I'm hoping that one day they will figure out a solution.

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