Comments about ‘Standardized testing — is it necessary?’

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Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 5:20 p.m. MST

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worf
Mcallen, TX

For over thirty years, I have been asking parents, teachers, and administrators if standardized testing improves learning, and creativity?

Never has anyone said yes.

Some say these tests hold students accountable, but can't relate it to improved learning.

Do we send our children to school to be held accountable, or to learn?

Are these tests worth the billions of dollars, and time spent each year?

I would think not!!

Nespa
Provo, UT

Standardized metrics are backwards-oriented. They look behind the student and try and test on a "few things". So they measure "some things" but we don't get a strong sense for what the student does know beyond the given test. We also don't get a meaningful sense for what the student can do in the future. Alternative assessments (AA) and Dynamic Assessments (DA) can and are usually future-oriented. In these types of assessments, we can see (and measure) how the students USE the material they have learned. Educators (and students) LEARN during the assessment. When students use "tools" and demonstrate how they apply it in AAs or DAs, the teachers are better able to see where "gaps" and "strengths" are in the students' knowledge and abilities... and together they can work from those strengths. As a result, teachers are better able to build with the students' identity and motivation(s).

Nespa
Provo, UT

Unfortunately, we hold dearly to standardized tests (it's easier and a money maker). We fall victim to an idea that if they can regurgitate some facts (pushing simple knowledge back-and-forth), we get a large picture of abilities (and supposed learning & development)... which is a false premise. Why empower teachers? Where's the money-making in that? If publishers and curriculum writers allow teachers to meet students' needs then they wouldn't be able to continually sell and sell their goods. There would be a limitation in what they produced as teachers would be able to select products that meet their particular students based on AAs and DAs. So the message is to create teachers that must follow pre-scripted programs - written in a standardized form, regardless of what the needs of your students are. Pretty silly game we're playing. The words "learning" and especially "development" are almost always left off the advertisements - they don't address these two topics any longer.

worf
Mcallen, TX

Some silly questions:

* do we trust teacher given report card grades?
* do students need to be measured, and compared to students around the country?
* Do students, teachers, and schools need to be held accountable to test scores? Can't this be done with graduation rates, and comparing ACT/SAT scores.
* Shouldn't the focus be on teaching, and learning

Nespa
Provo, UT

o the question we need to ask is whether we empower and trust the teachers to be professional (or not). If we don't trust teachers then we turn to teacher-proofing materials (by [distant] publishers). Look at the recent moves by Prentice-Hall and some of the others. When they're not getting the expected results from their prescripted curriculums (after so many years) then the system actually turned to the publishers to produce the assessments (more in-line) with their material. So if you use their stuff and teach directly to their tests, then (and it's still weak) you'll start seeing some correlation and they will call it "learning" (statistical growth on a standardized test). So by no means will it meet your question of whether students truly learned and certainly doesn't come close to development... which is the purpose for learning!

Nespa
Provo, UT

So I'd rather take my lumps with local teachers and put money towards improving their abilities than send my money to publishers and have them make everything common - under some warped definition of "fairness" for all. At the same time, we belittle the teachers/teaching profession and then we don't meet the students' authentic needs. So it's a pretense and the NPR links speak to this game.

Agree with your comments. Looking over our shoulders and comparing to others seems to be a large past-time for our nation (national-metaphor). Why aren't we setting the standards for our needs (both local and national) rather than always comparing our curriculums to other nations? This goes back to at least Sputnik and our nation's crazy ambition to be #1 in everything. Our standards are only to beat others (compare-based) rather than finding substantial needs of our people to address. We should be doing education that works for us not for Singapore, Hong Kong, and Norway w. differing populations and needs.

worf
Mcallen, TX

I have never read, or heard any statements giving sound explanations for standardized testing, and why it's necessary for learning, teaching, and creativity. Never!

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

It should be mandatory that every politician, especially our legislature, watch a Sir Ken Robinson video. Then they might learn why our education system is in trouble and the direction we are heading is horrible.

worf
Mcallen, TX

Has anyone ever stated these tests increase:

* learning
* comprehension
* creativity
* memory

Nope! People just make assumptions!

How could so many people be fooled into spending billions of dollars, and wasting so much time on this rubbish?

Schools are for teaching, and learning, not holding kids accountable for test scores.

Seek to understand
Sandy, UT

The purpose of standardized testing is to ascertain a student's skills and knowledge base. This gives us important information about the student, and about his/her education, and allows us to hold students and educators responsible for the billions of dollars spent by taxpayers each year on education.

SAT and ACT are great measurements of a student's preparation. I have yet to meet a student who can do well on the language and writing portion of the ACT who can't write, or can't read and comprehend at a fairly complex level. The test is a great indicator of student preparedness for college level work, and colleges have correlated the scores to student success at the university level.

The tests are not built to gauge regurgitated facts. The reading portion has none of that - it tests reading comprehension, the ability to infer, deduce and connect knowledge (all higher level thinking skills). The writing portion tests students' ability to express themselves and organize information (also higher level skills).

It is very popular to slam tests as meaningless. IN reality, they are very helpful tools, they are good for students and good for teachers, and especially good for taxpayers.

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