Below is a video I've made that goes hand and hand with the blog post.
Standardized tests are used throughout the United States to measure overall academic achievement of students through multiple-choice and true-false questions. According to TIME magazine, this structure of education started during the Industrial Revolution. TIME explains that during this specific era, kids were taken out of the farms and factories they worked in and put behind desks for the first time. These standardized examinations emerged as an easy way to test large numbers of students quickly. But as society advances, is the structure of the system and its emphasis on standardized testing doing more harm than good for students, especially those who tend to be right brain (creative) thinkers and learners? To standardize somebody is to cause them to conform to an average and be easily measured and compared to their peers. Why does the education system continue to condition the students of our future to be average?
In this day and age standardized testing is an inaccurate way to measure overall student intelligence full-scale. Students are frequently being diagnosed with learning disabilities such as ADD, ADHD, and test anxiety -- all newly developed epidemics that have emerged with the increase of standardized education. The current education system is out of date for today's generation and needs to develop a flexible model for students’ individualized aptitudes (natural abilities) that cater to the overall learning experience of the student and work towards achieving a promising future for all types of learners.
Every student has a specialization or talent to offer the world, but standardized tests damage the learning process for students who don't perform well on these examinations because every time they go to take a test and get their scores back, they are reinforced of their failures and further repressed of their creative abilities. Because of this, the strengths of these individuals are not being considered as important in the classroom, therefore the student feels their importance and potential contributions for society are impractical, leaving the student with only one option-- to give up. Students are forced to learn things that are so painful for them to get through they would rather drop out. When looking at this situation from an honest perspective one might argue that this kind of student is lazy and unprepared to work hard in the real world. Of course the student could study and get a bit better of a grade, but what if they want to put their energy into something else that's important to them and their true ambitions? Is that wrong? If a student has a hard time focusing in the classroom and instead spends their time daydreaming of producing films, coming up with useful inventions, and exploring outside (the list is limitless), this does not make them lazy, it just makes them a different type of learner.
Standardized tests are created for only one type of learner, kicking the ‘day dreamers’ of our world to the side. If a student has the resources to dedicate time into learning how to ‘play the game,’ of taking standardized tests, or is able to invest in ACT/SAT prep classes, where individuals can learn how to make the best guess possible if unsure of an answer, one will most likely see improvements, but kids are inspired and driven in other areas of life too, and to ask a child to put their free time into teaching themselves how to take a test when they would rather be outside (nature having been inspiration for great inventions and discoveries throughout history), is asking a kid to stop creativity all together, let go of their inspirations and curiosity, and conform into a dull mindless person. Like the old saying goes, you can't ask a fish to climb a tree and expect it to do well at it. This concept puts things into perspective for students who don't manage standardized testing well.
There has been multiple times as a student where I've taken a standardized test and have come across multiple choice questions offering a few options I feel could have been argued as the correct choice, but since I was only given the option to fill in a bubble, I felt like I wasn’t able to challenge and use my knowledge of the topic to its fullest potential by not having the option to explain my reasoning and understanding for why I chose what I chose. I feel if I had an opportunity to explain the evidence provided from a different perspective, the professor would have considered what I had to say. This recurring instance in the classroom represents an analogy for how theories turn into facts and how scientific phenomenons get discovered in the real world. Questioning what is already proven is how we advance technologically worldwide, but in the classroom this open style of learning is avoided.
A possible solution to eliminating standardized examinations would be to enhance and individualize the learning experience for students and design a way for all kids, no matter what their socioeconomic background may be, to succeed. We can redefine what a test is all together and revolutionize the testing experience by allowing students to explore their ideas through open ended discussions and questions on a regular basis, giving students an equal opportunity to reflect on themselves, find their purpose, feel inspired, and show their academic intelligence in a way that has never been measured before. These new ‘tests’ will encompass questions like; “What subject do you enjoy most in school and why?; If given an opportunity to take more courses pertaining to what inspires you would you feel your experience in school would be more enjoyable?;What is something you're really good at?; What is something you're not so good at?, etc.” School is about the students, so why aren’t we asking the students what they want to learn about in school? These questions could be used to measure what kind of courses a student should be placed in at an earlier age. How many times have you said to yourself, “When am I ever going to use this in the real world,” while sitting through a class? This model of education could potentially resolve issues for struggling students and inspire them to stay in school.
There is a significant correlation of academic success between students coming from families with money and students coming from struggling households; this is called a child’s socioeconomic status (SES). According to buildon.org, 1.2 million students drop out of high school every year, with many falling into a cycle of poverty, unemployment and violence. Without support from the students family, mixed in with a lack of confidence in the classroom, students are left feeling unmotivated and broken, seeing school as a pointless use of time. According to an article in American Educator, By Daniel Willingham,“Disadvantaged children face a host of challenges to academic success. These challenges fall into two broad categories. First, as one might expect, wealthier parents have the resources to provide more and better learning opportunities for their children. Second, children from poorer homes are subject to chronic stress, which research from the last 10 years has shown is more destructive to learning than was previously guessed.” Americanized education requires students to pass a wide variety of subjects in order for them to find what inspires them and figure out what they want to be when they grow up, but like logic behind this method was lost a long time ago when the education system started standardizing everything. With that, creativity in school has been lost in the process resulting in lack of interest in school for individuals who're more creative thinkers. The current system of education requires students to continue this cycle of covering many different courses repetitively. As a college student majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in anthropology, I’m still required to take math and science courses -- subjects I’ve been familiar with since elementary school and have always struggled with due to how quickly the material has to be learned. While others succeed in these courses, writing comes natural to me and I want to dedicate more time specializing in what I love to do.
I understand that standardized testing can reduce workloads for teachers and make grading easier, as well as make collecting the data of student improvement effortless, but in reality this system is producing negative wholistic numbers, students who don’t feel confident in what they’ve learned, causing students to drop out of high school, and rely on harmful drugs such as Adderall and Vyvanse to get through courses. The government should invest more money and time in providing students with the resources they need to succeed by offering the option for students to take courses having to do with their specialization at an earlier age in order to prevent spending millions of dollars on dropouts and ‘troublemakers,’ because these ‘troublemakers’ might have taken a different path in life if they were encouraged by their role models and teachers to follow their ingenuity. According to centerforpubliceducation.org, schools K-12 in the United States require between 175 and 180 days of school and/or between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time per year, depending on the grade level. That makes 12,000 hours of in-class learning, excluding the additional time students spend on homework and studying. With this amount of time dedicated to a child's young life in school, the development of how they see and understand the world in their later life relies on how they are being taught to learn now and the confidence they have in themselves to succeed in the future. We live in an evolving world and I feel standardized tests teach us to live in a world of black and white. To choose one side or the other and not consider multiple possibilities.
In order to establish equality in the classroom, we need to analyze and reevaluate how the current system is affecting students and whether or not it is an effective plan towards helping them once they reach adulthood and enter the work field. Instead of forcing students to take classes and tests having nothing to do with their passions or interests, teachers should be allowed to encourage students to find a purpose they can be excited about and help guide individuals in a clear direction.Our world is expanding new concepts and ideas at an exponential rate and students are inspired, but get discouraged easily when so much time is spent doing something they dislike rather than enjoy. These kind of learners are unable to recognize where they fit in because they feel they are never given an opportunity to showcase what they care about and what they are good at. Of course the entire education system isn’t flawed, there are teachers who are passionate about their role in student education and understand the importance in evolving traditional ways of teaching. This teaching style inspires students and allows creativity to flow in the classroom. The truth is we all have different specializations and things we are good at. With that being said, how can all students expect to reach their fullest potential in school if the way students are tested remains standardized?
Thanks for being here
I feel my purpose is to show readers and viewers different perspectives of the world through the eyes of others. Everyday I challenge myself to think of new theories and concepts, change-up my routine and viewpoints, and allow myself to be creative both mentally and physically. I feel knowledge is power and when we choose to evolve and understand ourselves, we choose to understand our world and the people in it.