BLOG: D) None of the Above
By: Shruti Marathe
President Obama announced recently that the administration wants to cap the time spent on standardized tests to only two percent of class time.
For the first three weeks of March of my senior year of high school, 75 percent of my school got to come to school three hours late because other students were taking standardized tests. Two months later (in May) it was the same situation It’s almost shocking that it took so long for the federal government to recognize students should not be sacrificing so much valuable class time for testing.
“Learning is about so much more than filling in the right bubble,” asserted President Obama in his video message. His statement rings true nationwide. Throughout the country we’re seeing a decreased amount of stress on testing. Colleges, such as George Washington University, have dropped their freshman admissions testing requirement for SAT or ACT scores. The strategy is to take a more holistic approach in assessing student progress.
Movement away from testing will greatly benefit students in the long run. Test-based learning leads to stressed students and short-term retention of information. Teachers don’t want their students to memorize; they want them to learn. Statistics show eighth graders spend an average of 25.3 hours a year taking standardized tests; thus reinforcing the idea that students are only as good as a number. This mentality cannot crowd students’ minds before high school. It results in unilateral, uncreative members of society.
There are countless statistics pointing to why excessive test taking is bad. Forty-two percent of teachers reported the emphasis on testing has a negative impact on classrooms. According to a study conducted by the National Education Association (NEA) in 2014, fifty-two percent of teachers feel too much time is spent on test prep. Forty-five percent of surveyed teachers have considered quitting because of standardized testing. But with all these facts flooding our minds, the question to ask is: what’s next for education? We need assessments that test understanding, rather than learning. The Obama administration’s plan to stray away from testing isn’t perfect, but we’re moving in the right direction.
While the ideology behind the plan is rock solid, implementation will be difficult. The United States Constitution grants education as a “states’ rights” issue. Legislation to enforce a two percent cap on testing would require incentives for states to enact the law. While the government has not experienced excessive problems getting states’ issues under the national purview, such a stark change from the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind policy will leave schools shuffling to change once again. The PARCC core testing just arrived in New Jersey high schools one/two years ago, and it’s already being pushed out the door. Students had to use computers to take PARCC testing, putting enormous stress on school Wi-Fi and technology services. After developing complex schedules to handle PARCC testing, schools now have to throw that out and develop a new plan. While I’m all for reducing testing, districts need consistency to keep their school systems efficient. If we want our students to learn the “right” way, we have to keep the affect on the local level in mind. If not, all the rhetoric on the national level will distress education in individual school districts.