The United States is falling lower in education ranks while other countries are climbing, and there is a potential contributing factor: excessive standardized testing. America is ranked 17th in science and 24th in math (reading was exempt due to a printing error) out of 57 other countries. (Wilde) Although the United States is in the middle of the group and not the lower end, as large and diverse as the country is, one would think that America would be a fearsome competitor in educational standards compared to other industrialized countries in the world.
The exorbitant amount of standardized tests that students undergo every year affects the quality of education these students are getting. There are as many as 20 standardized tests per school year-9 out of 180 days, not to mention the time spent preparing students for these tests. In the classroom, time could be spent learning about substance pertaining to a subject that may help a student in ways outside of standardized testing, instead, students are being taught matters that will be on the tests.
Consequently, this angle of education prevents students from getting taught beneficial, relevant information that aren’t generally on standardized tests. Not only are students receiving an inferior education, teachers in America are worried about their students’ scores coupled with the scores effect on the teacher. Justifiable so, teachers are concerned of their students’ future as well as their own future. Standardized tests aren’t only examining students; teachers are assessed and penalized based on the outcome. (Strauss) Teaching primarily the material for a test, the student and the teacher gain the benefit of higher scores.
The drawback to this teaching style is the reduced education students receive. As a result of the corrupt education system, teachers are dwindling; the number of teachers has decreased by over 50% in Texas in the last five years, and there are 21,000 teacher roles are in the need of being filled in California. (Westervelt) Of course, there are other factors contributing to the decline of teachers, low pay and the high college tuition, however, many teachers are changing careers on account of the time spent on standardized testing, and the amount of valuable time preparing for them.
Unsurprisingly, the morale of educators is the lowest it has been in 20 years. (Strauss) There are copious effects caused by the notion that standardized tests are to be the core of education in America. As students are solely taught test-containing material, no creativity or critical thinking is encouraged. (Strauss) Both of these skills promote the technique of individual to decipher and resolve a problem. In spite of the positive qualities that creativity produces, original thinking seems to be overlooked in society today; having that attribute isn’t important, as universities look only at a student’s test score in math, science, etc.
Arts programs, including choir, band, FCS, drama, painting, pottery, etc. , are considered insignificant. The arts, compared to core classes, are deemed “supplementary,” regardless of the fact that they often make careers. These “extra” classes are valuable tools to make a student more creative, especially if taken at a young age. In addition, creativity causes a person to think resourcefully; the “outside of the box” thought process helps a person consider methods to solve a problem in a way that other, less inventive, people wouldn’t be able to envision.
Imagination and innovation are a necessity in making a business successful; complex drawbacks within a corporation require an employee with the ability to consider a solution that no one else has thought of. Correspondingly, creativity is essential to a person’s success in life and the workplace, as well as the approach of resolving conundrums. The hypothesis that standardized testing is the best way to educate has caused students to disregard the significance of critical thinking.
The accepted notion that the focus in classrooms should entail only the knowledge of standardized test questions prevents students to be enlightened or see the value of any other information. This conviction averts students from expressing, or even feeling the need to express themselves. Moreover, critical thinking is an important element in the development of solving problems. Teaching students to memorize facts to pass a test rather than using critical thinking produces students who aren’t able to understand the process of resolving an enigma.
Being able to analyze a situation and find the solution is a skill that is imperative to living in the real world- the world of adulthood. Which is more beneficial: knowing the answer to a problem that will inevitably be forgotten, or being familiar with the process of interpreting a difficult situation and knowing the steps to find a solution? Short-term memorization strategy students use to pass tests and classes, but, in reality, it’s evident that this system is corrupt and unfair. The American society doesn’t question the education system; it isn’t an issue, that’s standard education.
Looking from the outside of American culture, it seems that students are accustomed to this backward education system. To support that statement, standardized tests represent the students’ ability to memorize facts, not the student’s actual judgment, reasoning, comprehension, or work ethic. The idea that standardized testing embodies a student’s education or intelligence is frustrating, and students in America are rebelling. The conclusion that standardized testing depicts a person’s intelligence disconcerts practically every student, no matter how well that student does in school and on tests.
There are various factors that support the reality that standardized tests aren’t accurately representing students. For instance, test anxiety is a significant factor that affects test scores; 18% of students suffer moderate to high level of test anxiety, and 16-20% of students endure extreme test anxiety. This anxiety causes a student to make atypical mistakes, their mind to go blank, the clouding of logic, and ultimately lowers their test score; these facts demonstrate that standardized tests do not correctly represent students. Morton) In essence, a student with test anxiety can study and memorize the equal amount of other students and still get a lower score. These factors contribute to the upset among students. Presuming that the memorization of certain facts for a short amount of time portrays someone’s intelligence has caused a cheating culture. The reasoning behind cheating is somewhat understandable. In the view of students, there isn’t a purpose of wasting time studying aspects that are insignificant and unhelpful outside of high school.
Knowing history, literature, and other things that are taught in high school are beneficial to a student’s knowledge, but knowing trivial material just so a company knows that it’s been taught is squandering. This concept has made a many students speculate that education is a waste of time, and also causes students to wonder why our education doesn’t prepare high school students for college and life outside of high school. Numerous articles and essays are written, analyzing the cause of unprepared college students.
Whether the reasons are emotional stress, financial illiteracy, poor study habits, or just no knowledge of what to expect from life outside of high school and living independently. Correspondingly, high school students are learning nothing that will take them beyond high school; American education’s priority focuses on standardized tests over preparing students for adulthood. Of course, knowledge of the information on these tests are important; the tests help students know information that will help with college classes. On the opposing end, there is no instruction on what to expect or prepare students for adulthood.
If the United States desires to climb above other countries in education status, there need to be changes in the education system. Many other countries, such as Finland, use different programs for preschoolers than America that affect the outlook on life and education; instead of focusing on academics during preschool, the priority of preschool is social interactions and self-image. (Harvey) With this intention, self-reflection and socializing at an early age engraves the concept that education isn’t merely learning facts, it’s also about character and growth of personality.
Provided that the teacher shortage in America has many causes, some of those reasons are on the matter of excessive testing. (Strauss) If there were fewer tests, there would be much less at stake for both the teacher and student. It’s imperative that America reduces the amount of testing to increase the number of teachers, or, at least, lessen the number of educators changing careers.
Compared to the educationally higher-ranking countries, high schools in the United States have fewer requirements when hiring teachers. Strauss) Requiring a master’s degree and looking into the applicant’s background more carefully would lessen the need to evaluate the teacher based on the students’ scores, resulting in the reduction in the hypothetical obligation for excessive testing. Given that preparation for college and maturity is the purpose of high school, high school graduates go to college with no concept of life after high school. With this intention, it’s necessary that American schools contribute preparation for adulthood in the curriculum; it would be beneficial to have concentrations in school based on what each student desires after graduation.
In other words, concentrations would give students preparation and a better idea of life as an adult. Although there are alternative contributions to the less-than-desired ranking the United States has, standardized testing in excess combined with the stakes that are at risk is unreasonable. In spite of the fact that standardized tests aren’t the only problem in the American education system, many of the issues are linked to immoderate testing. Not only are students not getting the education that is deserved, the United States is not a leader in education standards anymore.
In order to pass other countries in rank, changes need to be made. By and large, excessive standardized testing has negatively impacted teachers and the way they educate, but ultimately has affected students’ quality of education. Outside of the unsatisfactory rank America has, the United States is not giving adequate education to students, caused by the impression that standardized tests are the basis of education. To better the education of the nation, it’s a necessity that standardized tests are reduced.