Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Standardized Testing/Against
The Negative Aspects of Standardized Testing
By: Kathryn Morris
By reading this article, the reader should gain an understanding about the negative problems that standardized testing creates. They should learn about how students do not gain the in depth educational value from the multiple choice questions on these tests that they would from other types of assessments. The reader will also learn about the limitations that standardized tests place on the curriculum taught to students by the teachers, as well as the biases that these tests can have. Finally, the reader will learn about the anxiety created by these tests for students and teachers due to the adequate yearly progress that is mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.
Standardized testing has become a prevalent normality in the public schools in the United States due to the standards put into place by the No Child Left Behind Act. Public schools all over the country are reliant on the scores from these tests given to their children. Because of No Child Left Behind, every student in third grade to twelfth grade must be tested by state standardized tests. While these tests can be used by the state and national government to determine whether or not schools are meeting their specified adequate yearly progress or not, there are also many negative aspects of these tests.
|Important Information About Standardized Tests for Parents|
Memorization vs. Evaluation
By making students take standardized tests, they are not required to apply their knowledge of the information that has been taught to them by their teachers. To save time and money, most of these tests that are given to students consist of only multiple choice questions (Winerip, 2006). With this type of test they simply have to recall information and memorize facts that they know will appear on the tests. Multiple choice questions do not require them to apply or evaluate the information they learned (Winerip, 2006). While multiple choice standardized tests may be good for the states because they save time and money, they may not be the most beneficial to the students taking them for their educational future.
Standardized tests can also be detrimental to the teachers who are educating the children. The curriculum that they are required to teach is severely limited to the material that they are told will be on the test. This practice of teaching is referred to as “teaching to the test” due to the fact that the teachers do not get much of a chance to teacher other pertinent information (National Center for Fair and Open Testing, 2007). Because of the pressure placed onto the teachers for their children to do well on these tests, they are forced to allow ample time for the children to learn this specified material. This does not allow much time, if any, for the teachers to expand the curriculum to teach things that may be more interesting or fun for the children. Creative and interesting teaching methods are halted in order to teach children what is required for the standardized tests (National Center for Fair and Open Testing, 2007). Some teachers are now quitting their jobs due to the unhappiness that they are experiencing caused by testing (Solley, 2007).
It is no secret that taking tests can severely increase student’s anxiety. Now, students have severe pressure placed onto them to perform well on these standardized tests, so their anxiety increases (Solley, 2007). Beginning in third grade, students know that they are required to do well on these tests and therefore may have great anxiety before the tests (Phillips, 2006). According to the Washington Post, researchers have found that test anxiety affects about 25% of American students today to various degrees (Can Exam Anxiety Be Overcome?, 2004). They have said that the majority of these children are in 3rd to 5th grade. These children may be fearful that they will not meet the requirements to pass the test, which would in turn be detrimental to their educational careers.
These tests given to students could also be very biased. For the most part, questions on standardized tests are written on the norms of white, middle class Americans (Phillips, 2006). Students falling into other categories than these, such as African-Americans, Asians, and those living in poverty, could be at a disadvantage when it comes to answering certain questions. Students who are English language learners, or ELL’s could also be at a disadvantage because of the fact that English is not their first language, so language proficiency becomes an issue with them successfully completing the test (Phillips, 2006)
Examples of Standardized Tests
Standardized Testing Example
The sites listed above in the box provide examples of the state of Virginia's standardized test given to all students beginning in third grade. While each state has its own name for their test, Virginia's is called the Standards of Learning. Each year, the state department of education releases tests for students and teachers to use as a guide in preparing for future tests. The first link is to the actual released test for third grade reading from the spring of 2007.
The second link is to the Virginia Department of Education's SOL website. Here, you will find all of the standards that are listed by the state that could possibly be covered on the tests. These lists are what the teachers go by in order to teach the correct curriculum to their students.
Test Your Knowledge
1. In what grade must students begin to take federally mandated standardized tests according to No Child Left Behind?
2. Why does the government support the use of multiple choice standardized tests rather than the essay and short answer format?
a. it is easier for the students to answer questions, giving them higher scores
b. it saves them time
c. it saves them money
d. both b and c
3. About how many students are affected by test anxiety?
4. Mrs. Smith teaches a fourth grade social studies class in the state of Virginia. Her expertise is the American Civil War, in particular the battles that took place in the state of Virginia. Mrs. Smith would like to teach her students a specialized, in depth lesson about the first and second battles of Bull Run, however she cannot do so due to the time constraints from what principle?
a. Fair Education Act
b. "teaching to the test"
c. "Keep History Simple"
d. Teacher Protection Act
5. Kris encounters bias while taking a standardized test. Kris is originally from Korea. If Kris was asked to choose the best answer for something he could eat between dog, frame, cow, or book. He has a difficult answer choosing between dog and cow because in Korea he would eat dog on a regular basis. Which type of bias does Kris face in this situation?
a. Cultural Bias
b. Racial Bias
c. Gender Bias
d. Educational Bias
Check Your Answers