The Side Effects of Standardized Testing You would not give your kids unneeded pills that had side effects of limited creativity, stress, or anxiety, so why give them unneeded tests that do the same? In a peer-reviewed journal, 2015 Schooling In America Survey, it is stated that 60% of Americans believe negative thoughts about K-12 education, that it has gotten off the wrong track (DiPerna). A large number of parents, students, and teachers all believe that education is not on the right track. Why do we waste so much money on tests that so many people believe are not even suitable for K-12 education?
Following the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) on January 8, 2002, yearly costs on standardized testing rose from $423 million to $1. 1 billion in 2008. That’s a 160% increase, whereas over the same time period, before the act, it had only increased 19. 22%, according to the Pew Center on the States (Vu). We need to spend money on education, but for the classrooms, not testing. Standardized testing is futile because it restricts creative thinking, creates more stress, judges teachers and students unfairly, and wastes time. First of all, standardized testing limits creativity.
The multiple-choice format used on standardized tests is an insufficient tool to test students. It encourages an oversimplified way of thinking in which there are only right and wrong answers which in real life situations, does not work (Sacks). We want to encourage more complex thinking. How are we supposed to find the cure to cancer if we can’t think any harder than how we think on multiple choice tests? In addition to, the tests create a limited span of learning and achievement. They only test specific subjects such as reading, writing, and math, rather than a full icture of what and how students learn. Creativity, collaboration skills, drive, social skills, leadership skills and so many more traits are not tested. Education is about a lot more than just a few subjects. It is about learning to work with people and managing time well, as well as the important subjects; a lot of people believe the same thing. According to an editorial by one teacher in the Denver Post, “standardized tests are killing our students’ creativity, desire to learn.
The children have encountered it every year since third grade, and every year it has taken parts of their souls” (Luzer). It has taken parts of their souls” is a little morbid, but it’s a good metaphor. Standardized testing is causing negative thoughts towards education and is limiting student’s growth. These standardized tests severely stress teachers and students out. Life is already mentally damaging, but the stress that is put on people from standardized testing is unnecessary. A 2013 peer-reviewed study found greater test anxiety about the NCLB assessment than about typical classroom tests, and that 25 percent of students studied reported severe psychological and physiological symptoms tied to the assessments (“How highstakes”).
Every additional thing you take on in life has the possibility of giving you stress, but we don’t need the extra mental damage. Standardized tests can place a huge amount of stress on students and teachers alike. This can lead to negative health consequences as well as feelings of negativity directed at school and learning in general. Common responses to “exam stress” include disturbed sleep patterns, tiredness, worry, irregular eating habits, increased infections, and inability to concentrate (Fitzgerald). Most teens already do not get the sleep they need, so they should not be given anything that can prevent it.
The University of Hartford Psychology professor, Natasha Segool, has been studying the links between anxiety in children and high stakes testing for the past six years. A 2009 study she conducted of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in Michigan found that students reported being significantly more anxious when taking statewide assessments compared to other classroom tests. About 11 percent of the children surveyed reported severe psychological and physiological symptoms tied to the assessments (Thompson). These are elementary school kids having severe symptoms to the stress of testing.
Prolonged stress can profoundly undermine learning, mental health and brain development in young people. It could even lead to worse issues like heart or stomach problems. Standardized tests are not an adequate source to judge students or teachers. There are some people disagree with that statement. Standardized tests give the school and governments accurate comparisons between subgroups such as ethnicity, special needs and socioeconomic status. They can then develop programs to help out the scores in these groups (University 1).
There are a few good things about standardized testing. According to a peerreviewed, 100-year analysis of testing, 93% of studies found a positive effect from standardized testing on students (Phelps). Even though this is true, the tests are still an unreliable measure of a student’s performance. A 2001 study published by the Brookings Institution found that 50-80% of year-over-year test score improvements were temporary and “caused by fluctuations that had nothing to do with long-term changes in learning” (Olson).
Why base school funding and teacher’s salaries on a temporary statistic? Standardized testing evaluates a student’s performance on one particular dav and does not take into account external factors. There are many people who simply do not perform well on tests. Many of these students are smart and understood the content, but it doesn’t show on the test. Many students also develop test anxiety which hinders performance (University 1). Anxiety and stress seem to be very big reasons on the topic of standardized testing. These tests are also unreliable for teachers.
According to a Sep. 2010 report by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, over 17% of Houston teachers ranked in the top category on the Texas Essential Knowledge and skills reading test were ranked among the two lowest categories on the equivalent Stanford Achievement Test. The results “were based on the same students, tested in the same subject, at approximately the same time of year, using two different tests (Corcoran). Students and teachers alike are worried about what will happen if the test scores aren’t high enough.
For example, 178 Atlanta public school teachers and administrators from 44 schools were found to be cheating on standardized tests according to a July 2011 state report. At one school, teachers attended “weekend pizza parties” to correct students’ answers, according to ABC News (Osunsami). These teachers are so worried about their jobs that they cheat together. And because students know that test scores may affect their future lives, they do whatever they can to pass them, including cheating and taking performance drugs. Students, teachers, and school districts should not be penalized for low scores, but instead, helped out.
Another reason why standardized testing is unneeded is that wastes time and only teaches kids things that will be on the test. “Teaching to the test” isn’t a good practice for students who want to learn extra. Standardized testing causes many teachers to only “teach to the test”. This practice can hinder a student’s overall learning potential. With the stakes getting higher and higher for teachers this practice will only continue to increase (University 2). Teachers feel that they need to teach only the information on the test because they can’t fit any extra information in.
On the other hand, some researchers say that “teaching to the test” is a good thing. It focuses on essential content and skills, eliminates time-wasting activities that do not produce learning gains, and motivates students to excel(Barth). There are a few pros of standardized testing. Another reason is that it gives teachers guidance to help them determine what to teach students and when to teach it. The net result is less wasted instructional time and a simplified way of timeline management (University 1).
It may save the teachers some stress in planning a lesson, but the student loses out on learning other things important to this ubject because they only learn what will be on the standardized test. During the time that a child is taking a test, he/she could be doing something far more valuable: actually learning something new and interesting. A 2007 survey of 1,250 civics, government, and social studies teachers showed that 75% of those teaching current events less often blame standardized testing (“Survey Finds”). And if that many history teachers do not teach current events, you can definitely bet that other subjects are suffering, too.
In conclusion, the effects that standardized testing has on your body isn’t worth it. Limited creativity, increased stress, poorly assessed students, and wasted time are all results of standardized testing. Some school systems are under great pressure to raise their scores so they have resorted to decreasing (and sometimes doing away with) time spent in recess. This can have negative impact on children’s social, emotional, and academic well-being (University 2). Stop forcing kids to take stressful tests that have worse side effects than the common anti-depressant.