Across the country, students, starting from the time they enter kindergarten, are required to take standardized tests. These tests are used to measure academic growth and provide accountability, thanks to federal programs such as No Child Left Behind. However, with these tests comes many problems that our education system has yet to resolve.
The companies that create the tests, such as Pearson and McGraw Hill, make millions of dollar off these mandatory tests. The tests are supposed to reflect your intelligence and help determine your future, however, these companies profit whether you pass or fail. Additionally, states spend a combined total of $1.7 billion on standardized tests. These tests are costly and the only ones benefitting from it are a couple of publishing corporations.
The major problem is that these tests disadvantage low-income schools and students in poverty. In order to do well on the tests, students must have the necessary materials such as textbooks to perform well. If schools do not perform well on standardized testing, they receive little to no funding. This results in having inadequate materials and poor infrastructure in the schools. The cycle continues to repeat itself and low-income schools find themselves stuck with no way to get out. Increasing the number of standardized tests does not fix any of the problems poor schools have to face. The low-income schools don’t need more tests to know they are facing serious problems. It would be more beneficial to spend the money budgeted for standardized tests on providing students materials in order to have an equal opportunity to be successful.
“Student testing is like using a thermometer to try to diagnose what kind of cancer an individual has … I think what people are understanding is we don’t need another round of tests to tell us that schools are struggling.” -Warren Simmons
Not only are these tests costing public schools millions and disadvantages low-income schools, students and parents all over the country strongly oppose having to take them. Recently, there has been an “opt out” movement that is growing in public schools. Parents are encouraging their students to opt out of taking these mandatory exams. Many students feel it does not represent their true intelligence and in order to do well on standardized tests, it is more about how well you can “game” the test, than any actual knowledge or skill. Students and teachers have even gone to twitter to express how they feel about the issue.
Americans rely so heavily on standardized testing to determine our academic future, but we have forgotten who creates these tests and their purpose. Students today are the future of our country and it is important for them to understand that there is more to your intelligence than having the ability to bubble in the correct answer on an exam. Every student deserves an equal opportunity no matter what public school they attend. It is time that we place less emphasis on testing and more on helping schools that are struggling in order to have equality in our education system.
“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.” -Michelle Obama
In my podcast below, I discuss further on the issue and how three major corporations play a role in standardized testing. I also interview students from James Madison University on how they feel about the topic and their experiences with standardized testing.