Standardized testing: Are students taught or trained?

Columnist Kelis Scott. Photo courtesy: Scott

In 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act was put into effect by President George W. Bush as a way to keep the low-scoring children from “falling behind.” It was also designed to improve test scores.

This eventually put elementary, middle and high schools in the United States under a microscope, especially when it came to the overall test scores of their students.

Twenty years later, students in primary and secondary schools are being worked like cogs in a machine to excel on these standardized tests. But they are not being prepared and taught for the next level of education that they must reach, whether it be for high school or college.

Students should not be put under tremendous pressure on top of the class schedule they have and the workload from those classes for a test that only makes the school and the state look good, should these students pass with great scores.

The students are the only ones suffering in the long run as they’re held to these high expectations of passing tests, which can then cause them to attempt to cheat due to the pressure of wanting to do well and not fail. This could also cause a lack of focus in their actual classes as these tests tend to halt day-to-day school activity, resulting in a possible drop in grades.

The standardized testing for college preparation is no better either. To work hard for four years, excel in classes and have the GPA to show for it, only for a standardized test like the SAT or ACT to say that it was for nothing if the scores are sufficient.

Colleges and universities look at the grade point averages and the extracurriculars, but at the end of the day, if the test score is not to their standards, that dream school could be out of reach.

The memories of test days in middle and high school are still clear as day. Sitting in a classroom with 20 other students, tension in the air, the only sound that echoes the room being the clock on the wall and students’ pencils scribbling on their scantrons. Hoping and praying that the time would go by faster and that the time would be up.

Students, better yet children, should not have to go through the exhausting process that is standardized testing. The next generation of students should be taught and be able to improve at their own pace, not at the pace of the school or the state because of some education rankings.