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Standardized Tests - Do They Determine Who Will Be Successful?

Updated on August 21, 2014
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Standardized Tests

Standardized tests are any test administered and scored in a predetermined standard manner. Do standardized tests determine how successful children will be when they grow up? What do the tests really prove?

I worked as a music teacher in a public school for three years. During my teaching days I noticed the time of year for standardized tests were very tense for both teachers and students. Everyone had to do well. The school rating depended on it, the reputation of the teachers depended on it, and the perception of how much the children learned and how successful they are/will be depended on it. For a week before the exams the teachers did nothing but cram all of the information that was going to be on the test with the children. Music, gym, art, recess, and all "extra non-essentials" were cancelled. I don't know if every school does this but I believe it is common for schools to cram like this for standardized tests. After our school took the test we awaited the results which proved our school was successful. There were celebrations and banners were hung outside the school proclaiming success.

Did the tests really prove anything? Does spoon feeding children the answers to tests before the test is given indicate how wonderful a school is, it's teachers are, or how smart and successful the children are or will become? Teaching answers to a test doesn't equal great teaching or great student learning. It does create a one-dimensional student as opposed to a well-rounded one. The test seems to indicate who the best are at memorizing, not those who can put into practice or understand what they've learned, know how to problem-solve or think outside the box, having the ability to come up with new ideas, or think deeply or creatively in any field.

Are the tests helpful to teachers? The test does not indicate how a student learns or thinks or what a teacher can do next when working with a student. The test seems to yield no useful information for the teacher.

Are there other ways of assessing students learning? Could performance-based assessments be implemented? Could we document student work?

I do not claim to know the answer. I do believe we are doing an injustice to our children by depriving them of a well rounded education. Future writers, musicians, artists, thinkers, etc are missing these aspects of their education to learn a test. Does the test determine their success in these fields not tested?

A Credit To His Profession only 2 minutes a must see

Do you believe standardized tests are an accurate assessment of student learning?

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© 2013 HeatherH104

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    • forbcrin profile image

      Crin Forbes 

      4 years ago from Michigan

      You are welcome, HeatherH104

    • HeatherH104 profile imageAUTHOR

      HeatherH104 

      4 years ago from USA

      Thank you Forbcrin, your words are true.

    • forbcrin profile image

      Crin Forbes 

      4 years ago from Michigan

      Maybe one day, we will understand that teaching is an art not a profession, and in the same time is an investment in the future. The returns will come in much later, and the current performance is not an indication for the future development.

      I am sure that each one of us had classmates that were classified as geniuses, passed all the tests with flying color, only to get lost in a mediocre and forgotten life, while others who mostly flunked the tests and were invisible in school made it to the top and lead the world...

      The standardized tests may not be a bad idea, they may be a synthesis of what was learned during the period tested, however they way they are administered, and all the efforts spent on preparing them in the last minutes are ridiculous.

      I think that they are a symptom not the cause of our primary and secondary bad instruction system.

    • HeatherH104 profile imageAUTHOR

      HeatherH104 

      5 years ago from USA

      Very interesting about the music. Just goes to show you that one way of doing things is not going to work for everyone.

      I agree with you - the tests prove nothing about how well kids grasp the concepts taught.

      Thanks for the great comment Craftytothecore! :)

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 

      5 years ago

      I never liked the standardized tests when I was in school.

      My son thrives on listening to music while he studies. Last night he told me he wanted to do his homework but he was having trouble concentrating without music. We have a music system in the house that we got for him after the hospital told us he would function better with music in the background.

      My daughter on the other hand is like me. She can't think straight with noise around her. She was trying to do something at school yesterday and the little boy next to her was making noise. She didn't complete her assignment in class.

      As far as the tests go though, I don't really think they prove anything. I was a straight A student and I never did well on those tests.

    • HeatherH104 profile imageAUTHOR

      HeatherH104 

      5 years ago from USA

      Ghost Hubber,

      Yes, I agree! The tests are very hard and stressful for the kids. Kids believe/are told if they don't do well on the tests they won't get into good colleges, even that they won't do well in life. The tests are designed so those who are good memorizers or good at deducing the right answer are the only ones who do well. Neither of those skills actually determine if you understand and can apply the information. There's no room in these tests for important life skills like creative thinking, public speaking (or at least being able to verbally explain ideas), and so on. It's not fair to determine the students or the teachers future due to these particular tests. We need a different way of determining if students have learned the skills required.

      Thanks for your comment! :)

    • HeatherH104 profile imageAUTHOR

      HeatherH104 

      5 years ago from USA

      My friend Mike, always so nice to see you! :)

      I appreciate your kind comments. Have a great week!

      Heather

    • profile image

      Ghost Hubber 

      5 years ago

      I agree with you, they are hard on students. It's not learning when it feels like a chore.

      Great hub. voted up!

    • HappyMikeWritter profile image

      HappyMikeWritter 

      5 years ago

      hello dear friend Heather.

      Thank you for such interesting article. I can see you have many great experiences with teaching. Thank you once again for such article :-)

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