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Ableist Stigma in the School System.

Updated on April 8, 2020
Reid Pinckard profile image

Reid is a current high school student that uses his voice to provide others with one. He strives for a global equality statement.

Why is our school system bound by perfection?

Our culture has developed the mindset that we need to compare the efficiency of students minds across the board. They use this to define success as a student when it is impossible to base personal success upon comparison of a student’s mental capabilities. How do they find a way to compare students in the classroom and around the nation? Standardized testing is what our federal and state governments have resorted to too find a benchmark upon which students should meet, but they do not acknowledge the negative effects of theses tests. People have noticed that these tests cannot improve instruction and performance because they are inherently discriminatory, they do not consider all students complexities, and the tests provide a profit-over-people complex within the education system.

The first of many negative impacts regarding standardized testing is the fact that they are inherently discriminatory on all levels. They discriminate against people of color and individuals with disabilities. Professor Danforth of Chapman University finds that these tests only seek to add humans into society that are of benefit to the area that they live in (Danforth 15). This is prejudicial against people with disabilities. They are valued as less than an able-bodied person because they, according to some, cannot benefit society enough to be considered of equal standard. Standardized tests are the fulcrum upon which education reform pivots, but when these tests create a racial divide and increase the white supremacist mindset, education reform has gone to a point of no return. The idea of high-stakes standardized testing is that everyone takes the same test in ideally the same conditions, but the format of these tests and the grading of them allows the racist and white supremacist mindset to occur. These tests define the low income and high- income schools and the need for teachers. This snowballs into the knowledge of the racial sector of the population allowing for the discrimination against the population (Knoester & Au, 17). These tests are implanted with a prejudiced mechanism that does not allow for any strides towards a positive education space.

Not only does standardized testing discriminate it cannot be accountable for all the complexities of students. These tests are not able to ascertain the ideology of a student in a classroom, across the country, that they do not even know the name of, but the creators of the test think they can place this student exactly where they are supposed to be off of a single test score. A student’s world view is what shapes them to be the person they are going to be when they become a part of society. Knowledge is a complex thing and students are unique which is a sole reason that proves that standardized testing does not further the education system (Magee & Jones, 12). The original goal of the education system was to develop individuals that can be who they want to be when they are ready, in retrospect, the system prepares these children to do practically nothing that is extremely valuable in what people reference as the “real world.” Our culture thrives off individualism and standardized testing provides the opposite effect. There is no way to have students prosper in a system that holds them back through the implementation of simple tests. Uniqueness is what makes the world go around, but standardized testing limits the ability to apply our personal abilities to provide an example of what we are going to be in the future.

Unfortunately, the underlying mindset of the people that make these tests is greed and the love of money. Most are unaware of the private interests of public schools such as publishing, food, and pharmaceutical companies, for-profit education management organizations, and corporate lobbyists (Leistyna, 09). It is confusing how any individual can take standardized tests and use them to their own economic benefit, but businesses and schools have found a way to do so. There are companies that are paid to publish these tests. That is the issue, now these companies have all the power so they can make money off these tests. This causes issues such as narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, and discrimination (Leistyna, 09). Where the greed becomes a greater issue is when the government in charge is taking the most advantage of these tests for money. These “private forces” produce, provide materials, prep sessions, and tutorials for, evaluate, report on, and profit from these tests (Leistyna, 09). It is alarming that the system that was meant to help students that may not be as fortunate as others is worried about a quick buck rather than the student’s education.

Ultimately, we live in a broken education system that is being harmed even more by standardized tests. There are no real expectations anymore except pass the test and move on, and this causes discrimination throughout the system, it ignores how complex students are, and there is no room to grow when the person or people in charge is worried about profit over the students of our future. Until we find a feasible way in which we can analyze students off who they really are we are going to be stuck in a never-ending cycle of exclusion and stagnation of education.

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