In theory, standardized testing is terrific. The progress and development of today’s youth can be measured and problem areas can be addressed. But in practice, standardized testing often misses the mark.
The process is far too open to tampering from the teachers and administrators who run the tests. Though far from common, anecdotes of teachers reviewing key equations and facts immediately before the test is given or other assistance illustrates the potential ease with which the system can be undermined.
Furthermore, while the testing may be standardized, there is no standard way that everyone learns. Some are tactile learners, some visual, some auditory. With no one singular learning method, how can there be a way to test everyone equally?
That’s not to mention that tests themselves aren’t necessarily the best way to evaluate learning. Preparing for standardized testing often focuses on the format of the test, meaning students are certainly very good test-takers but not always the best learners.
But there are few alternatives to these tests when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of our schools. Standardized tests aren’t the ideal metric but simply the most reasonable tool school boards can employ.
The real problem arises with how school boards use the tests. Tying funding to success or failure on the test creates a realm of problems — the problems chronically underfunded (and underperforming) schools run into under No Child Left Behind in America show this.
That’s not to say throwing money at schools who aren’t doing well on the test is a much better idea. Low test scores happen for a variety of reasons, resources being just one of them. The quality of teachers, teaching methods and even parenting are all factors with a greater effect on learning than funding.
This is not to say resource-challenged schools don’t deserve some extra spending money to help give our youth a better education. But using low standardized test scores as justification to throw money at certain schools is not the best way to handle finances.
Putting a price on test scores may be the easiest solution — but it’s not the best.
—The Gazette Editorial Board