Evils of testing

By Ashley Long


Every school in the country has them, with students everywhere taking them on a regular basis; tests, particularly standardized tests. The schools push so much focus on these that students panic, struggle and worry that they will fail all because of them. Why push so much focus on testing?


Testing is not teaching, for it pushes the focus away from other minor subjects and activities. Standardized testing is usually not even about the students, it’s typically about how the teachers or schools rank and federal money. Testing is not good, testing is not teaching, testing is evil.


Sending children to schools where test scores are the ultimate goal instead of the education of children sells children short. With high stakes testing things get pushed aside, such as recess, extracurricular activities and minor subjects such as art, sciences and social studies. It is believed that attaching higher stakes to test scores pushes engaging lessons aside in favor of test preparation.


The expectation from schools is that children will be engaged and challenged while tests can inform teachers about what students know. However, forcibly inserting tests can harm the learning process, and parents who are concerned about the quality of education should be worried when teachers announce that the materials classes are working on will help improve test scores. This is just a sugar coated way to say that the teachers are spoon feeding children the test questions, so that the school looks better. The main goal of school boards looking better from test scores is federal aid.


The amount of material presented to children in the classroom is lessened to emphasize a few key points only to improve test scores. What this means for students is that any goal of producing brighter and higher achieving young adults will not be reached.


When the amount of material is lessened, the way information is presented is also limited. A free society needs people who are able to think outside the box and in new, innovative ways. This type of education is designed to teach children to think only about those things that the test makers deemed worthy when the test was made.


Standardized testing, the way they are used currently, does not even measure a student’s ability to learn, it only measures a school system’s way of writing a curriculum. Teachers today have access to what is going to be on the test, which in itself compromises the effectiveness of the test to be used as a measuring tool.


Some students have a hard time with tests. Many students suffer from test anxiety and this will result in lower test scores. Stephanie Hiett, a psychology major, said, “Testing makes me nervous. They make me feel like I am getting everything wrong even if it is right.” Because some students do not have a lot of confidence in their answers, it can cause them to get many answers wrong and result in lower test grades. There are those who have learning disabilities, or those who do not speak English or English is not their first language. These students fail tests far more frequently.


High stakes testing can cause grade retention or the student may just drop out of school altogether. Students who are retained do not usually improve academically, they tend to feel emotionally damaged by the retention, and suffer a loss of interest in school and it can cause a loss of self-esteem. High stakes testing is counterproductive in this aspect.


Schools want parents and everyone else to believe that standardized tests are better for students, but this is simply not true. Testing causes much more unneeded stress to the student. The main focus is on the rank of the teachers and school boards so that they can gain financial aid, and they cut out other programs in the school to focus more time on spoon-feeding students the questions on these tests. Testing actively hurts educational improvement, instead of helping.