Javier C. Hernandez’s article in The Times, “New York State Seeks to Scale Back Student Testing” details some steps being taken to reduce the amount and type of testing for certain students in New York state by John B. King, Jr. Hernandez outlines a few points, namely that:
“students struggling in English would be given exams in their native languages. A math test would be eliminated for some eighth graders. Students with disabilities would take tests matched to their level of instruction, not their age.”
Many of those who are against the trend of standardized testing are surprisingly unhappy about the decision. Hernandez cites the group Time out from Testing, who is calling for Dr. King’s resignation. That group, and other opponents, feel that the changes are a false compromise which leads people into accepting the testing culture. They would prefer testing be eliminated altogether. From a progressive education standpoint, standardized testing is a very bureaucratic, policy driven concept, which distracts from real learning. The time spent on teaching how to do well on the test is better spent doing something more productive and meaningful.
Proponents of standardized testing have a point, too: how can we be sure our schools are educating fairly?
I don’t ever remember being “taught to the test” when I was growing up. In fact, I remember being told that the standardized test would not effect my final grade and that the teacher would not see it. In high school, I vividly remember a class full of students apathetically filling in 100 “C” bubbles in 30 seconds, and then either doing their homework or taking a nap for the remainder of the testing period. I can’t imagine how that would’ve skewed testing data, now that I think about it. In a middle school I worked in as a paraprofessional from 2007-2009, March was devoted to the state test. I do recall that the teachers did teach students how to respond to the types of questions that would appear on the test. In other words, my own experiences with standardized testing are varied.
Is there a way to strike a balance between testing too much and not testing at all?