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Protests against standardized tests in school





SonLight
I found some interesting news about parents (and teachers in some cases) refusing to let their kids take standardized tests. In many cases, parents think the tests are resulting in curriculum being dumbed down and that they are unfairly using the tests to rate the teachers.

http://www.timesnews.net/article/9067156/opting-out-more-parents-keeping-their-kids-away-from-standardized-tests

Quote:
Morna McDermott, a Baltimore college professor who is a board member of United Opt Out, likens the battle against standardized testing to a fight for corporate reform.

"Ultimately this is an act of civil disobedience," McDermott said. "If this is going to change, it has to fundamentally be grassroots."

Darcie Cimarusti of Highland Park, N.J., didn't like that her twin daughters would have to agonize over a standardized test as first-graders so she worked out an agreement with the principal to move them into a kindergarten class during testing time.

"My goal is that my daughters never take a standardized test," Cimarusti said. "I see less and less value in it educationally and it being used more and more to beat teachers over the head."


I hope this will lead to a re-assessment of the proper role of testing in the schools, not just to more conflict.
biolu
As always, when there are changes there are unhappy people.
I mean if there is no standardized tests some people complain about the unfairness between students, but now, people think it brings the level down.
Anyway, grades at school are not the only thing that matters for grad studies and after...
Nick2008
As a student I have mixed emotions about the concept of standardized testing.

Standardized tests level the playing field for all students - everybody takes the same exam with the same level of difficulty. In large countries standardized tests are also the most financially reasonable way to assess the performance of millions of students.

Of course, these tests tend to dumb down education because we become more worried about learning what's on the test rather than just learning. We don't learn concepts, we learn the types of problems that are on the tests and then work to replicate the steps/procedure required to solve them. In this sense, standardized tests crush a student's natural intellectual curiosity. They force students to learn topics that do not interest them.

Would I say standardized tests need to be abolished? No.
Would I say we need to put less emphasis on standardized testing? Yes.
deanhills
Nick2008 wrote:
Would I say standardized tests need to be abolished? No.
Would I say we need to put less emphasis on standardized testing? Yes.
Totally agreed. However, do you think that this change would be possible in a society where there is so much competition to be the best and where winning is all? Children are conditioned from toddler stage to do better, and be the best so they could be the greatest. Look at beauty contests, movie stars, the olympics, big buck sports, and wherever one looks there are tests involved where the candidates are competing all out to be the best to the point of self-destruction.
bukaida
The standardized test for evaluating a student was/is/will be always under criticism. Every individual is special, so it is always difficult/not proper to measure them under the same scale. However , there is no suitable substitution of test. Some proposed for continuous monitoring and evaluation as substitute for the traditional test, but it is very difficult to implement if the volume of student is large.


@Dean: It is the survival of the fittest issue. We just forget sometimes that we are not the common animal, the most superior and worst of them. Even the elephants, dogs and other cares for their weaker wards, but we keep comparing ours with their stronger (?) friends and worst, siblings. Shocked
Nick2008
deanhills wrote:
Nick2008 wrote:
Would I say standardized tests need to be abolished? No.
Would I say we need to put less emphasis on standardized testing? Yes.
Totally agreed. However, do you think that this change would be possible in a society where there is so much competition to be the best and where winning is all? Children are conditioned from toddler stage to do better, and be the best so they could be the greatest. Look at beauty contests, movie stars, the olympics, big buck sports, and wherever one looks there are tests involved where the candidates are competing all out to be the best to the point of self-destruction.


The first step is for people to realize that they cannot be the best. There will always be someone better than you. That's just a fact of life. And knowing that there is someone better than you is not a bad thing... in fact it's a good thing - if you ever need help you know that there will be someone you could look to for direction.

In the U.S., there's this ridiculous notion that "Everybody needs to go to college". If you don't get a degree, you're a failure and you will never amount to anything.

So what do some people do? They go to college and come out with degrees in Egyptian History or Philosophy (because, hey, at least it's a college degree!... it'll make me successful... right?) and with $200,000 of debt. Then they wonder why they haven't achieved anything, but nobody cares at that point.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with not going to college. There is nothing wrong with going to a trade school and becoming an automotive technician or a carpenter or an electrician. In fact, taking this route may make certain people very successful, but society has tarnished this way because somehow it's not being the "best".

Some people shouldn't go to college, and that should not be seen as a bad thing. Some of the greatest minds we have today are college dropouts and there are automotive techs earning more money than Calculus teachers with PhDs.

Society's attitude in the U.S. towards standardized testing and the definition of "success" is, in a way, a paradox. We seem opposed to standardized testing yet it's the goldmine of showing oneself as better than the rest ("My son got a 2300 on his SAT!!! Take that!"), but without this uniform form of testing, how do we define who's "better" than the other? Bukaida proposed "continuous monitoring and evaluation"-- if somebody is really good at solving math problems while another person is extremely talented at acting... how do we figure out who's "better"? Under standardized testing, the results would be obvious.. but if we take a more holistic approach the lines blur.

Let's be honest, the reason we put so much emphasis on standardized testing is because it is a major component of the college admissions process. If society realizes that getting a college degree is not the holy grail of success, we wouldn't be as worried about these tests. If it is seen as acceptable (as it is in most of Europe) for one to become an apprentice and work their way up in a trade, it would result in positive outcomes for both the individual and society as a whole. For others, it may be plunging straight into a business venture. Some may want to enter the workforce directly and learn on the job (and maybe pursue education at a later time). Some may want to enlist in the army. Just because you decide to take one of these non-college paths does not make you a "failure".

The real solution to fixing the problem with standardized testing is for society to change its attitude about "success". Why was standardized testing not a big problem in the U.S. 50 years ago? Because 50 years ago, society saw nothing wrong with not going to college.
Pippo90
Tests are a necessary evil. If we want to establish a merit-based hierarchy, standardized tests are one of the fairest (and also most feasible) solution there exists. I agree, like other commentators said, that they should be integrated with other evaluation forms; anyway, we should also take into consideration that there will always be complaints: for each one who scores well, there is at least someone else whose test went poorly.
deanhills
Nick2008 wrote:
If society realizes that getting a college degree is not the holy grail of success, we wouldn't be as worried about these tests. If it is seen as acceptable (as it is in most of Europe) for one to become an apprentice and work their way up in a trade, it would result in positive outcomes for both the individual and society as a whole.
Totally agreed. I remember that they had problems in South Africa at one point where they couldn't get any apprentices or technologists, i.e. they were college graduate heavy in the manpower available. The German Fachschule along the lines you described is right on. So there are points during the schooling where students are encouraged to move into different profitable directions for them, instead of dropping out and be made to feel as failures and be lost to society. That way there can be more trained technicians and technologists available in the numbers that are needed. Think parents are very guilty as well. They seem to have a stubborn notion of what their child can accomplish on the college level and just won't give up to the detriment of the child, as well as the college training someone else more qualified could have had instead.
bukaida
The basic school education is required for everyone. However the higher studies should be pursued by only those who are interested. The degree is the official recognition of your knowledge and every valid degree should have a screening process. I have seen a lot of people getting abused since they do not have the required degree ( but have equal/more knowledge on the field like the degree holders). IMHO, The degree (academic/ hands on) is required specifically for the freshers to have the initial break.
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