Con: Standardized tests create added stress.

 

In an effort to close widening disparities in test scores, California switched from the California Standards Test to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) for students to test each Spring. These tests were designed to measure their educational abilities and determine low, average, or high performers to create a better learning environment suited to students’ needs. 

The U.S. administration set the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, replacing its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act, in order for public schools to administer standardized testing annually. Currently, only 50.9% of students meet or exceed expectations in language arts and 39.7% of students meet or exceed expectations in math, according to EdSource. Due to its ineffectiveness, students should not be required to take these standardized tests, especially amidst a global pandemic.

These high-stakes tests don’t accurately assess a student’s potential for success. According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the tests leave a variety of topics uncovered. Using standardized tests is like using tablespoons to measure temperature. In order to have their students perform well, many teachers end up teaching the test rather than an in-depth analysis of the curriculum. Especially when resources aren’t accessible in the midst of a global pandemic, students are not given the same opportunities as they would in a traditional classroom, decreasing chances of success on these exams. 

Standardized tests also do not consider external factors that students may face such as test anxiety especially this year with COVID-19 adding on to that anxiety. According to the CDC’s report in August, anxiety levels between April and June 2020 tripled in comparison to 2019. With increased anxiety levels, students are not in the best state to test as they may not perform to the best of their abilities. In turn, lower scores will affect their confidence in their own abilities and develop a negative attitude towards certain subjects. Students don’t need the added pressure of taking a standardized test on top of all the stress they are now facing from distance learning. 

Some critics, such as the United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, argue that school testing should continue because without testing, students are at risk of falling behind, which may have lasting effects for years to come as. However, there are many other ways that students could receive help in order to not fall behind. Rather than using resources to assess a student’s current standing, these resources should be put in to actually help these students and get the aid they need. Assessing these students will not help them improve, work needs to be put in to see growth. Many were quick to respond to DeVos, claiming that the education department should suspend these testing requirements due to ongoing disruptions. Students are already having to struggle with the hardships of continuing their education in a distanced format, and as Michigan state governor Gretchen Whitmer said, forcing students to take standardized tests during a global pandemic is just cruel. 

Removing standardized testing is essential to combat these issues. The students’ anxiety from scoring high on these tests may also be removed. Standardized testing is not a true indicator of a student’s learning and progress. It’s time for schools to start investing in in-depth learning, rather than teaching how to take these tests.

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