State Testing Under Fire

by Christine Urio

Parents statewide have been making the once unorthodox, but ultimately right decision to have their children opt-out of standardized testing.

While state testing has always been a hot topic, districts have never seen such a grassroots movement of civil disobedience with a huge number of students opting out of testing at the behest of their parents.

According to New York Daily News, “This ‘opt-out’ revolt has been quietly building for years, but it reached historic levels this time.”

Like most other institutions, education is flawed.

While this has been a known fact, parents have finally taken it upon themselves to revolt in hopes of making a positive change for their children’s future.

The purpose of standardized testing is to have an objective method of assessing academic achievement.

According to the Education Glossary, “because of the standardized format, coupled with computerized scoring, it removes the potential for favoritism, bias, and subjective evaluations.”

While this may seem fair, it is anything but.

Standardized testing serves as a benchmark, but does not take into consideration the individuality of the student and his situation.

To cut students down to the same level is unfair.  In a nation that prides itself on originality and uniqueness, it is contradictory to neutralize everyone—some students may have special needs and others may be exceptionally bright.  Not everyone has the same advantage and to be judged on a merciless scale that does not take that into account is cruel.

People have different socioeconomic situations and are afforded different opportunities accordingly.  While these tests are designed to be objective, it is undeniable that a student in upstate New York may be receiving a different, and arguably better education than those in rural areas.

Even if the material being taught is identical, factors such as test-taking skills and class size play a role in how well a child retains information, which standardized testing does not take into account.

It is also unfair to base a student’s worth off of a single score.

In a systematic world based on efficiency to benefit the greater good, we value people based on hard work. However, it can be overlooked that the students taking these tests are real people with actual lives revolving around the test.

Many factors could deter students from receiving the satisfactory scores they desire, for as we all know, life gets in the way:  maybe a student is having issues at home, their pet just passed away, or they are simply a bad test-taker.

Yet, the system does not take these factors into consideration, nor care.

The big takeaway many students will receive from this stressful experience is anxiety.

The amount of pressure that is placed on this test is excruciating, especially when it seems as if this single exam will determine one’s fate.

It inadvertently teaches students that it ultimately does not matter what you have learned as long as you can successfully spit back the information on a test, which undermines the whole notion of education.

According to The Critical Thinking Community, one of the oldest, and still most powerful teaching tactics is the Socratic Method.

“In Socratic teaching we focus on giving students questions, not answers. We model an inquiring, probing mind by continually probing into the subject with questions, focusing on the elements of reasoning in a disciplined and self-assessing way.”

If education focused more on the knowledge a student has gained rather than test scores, we would have a completely different system.

Although this revolt has been controversial, perhaps it is the first step to take back and finally reform education.