Students have different ways of learning, and teachers have different ways of teaching, so it might be possible that there are different ways of measuring a student’s ability, capacity for learning, and the depth to which a student has learned. Standardized testing is not the only way to measure a student’s accomplishments, but it is one way that is effective, for even a learning disabled student can learn a subject well enough to pass a test; the problem is not the test, but it is the mental agility that differs from student to student. Differences in agility make it easier for others to absorb, understand, and apply information while it takes much more time for others, and, for some, too much time.
Academic Record versus Standardized Tests
One of the more popular arguments is academic record versus tests, and which is the fairest method to judge a student’s worthiness. Academic record does not necessarily triumph standardized tests, and vice versa. For example, and as Alfie Kohn discusses in his article, “Standardized Testing and its Victims,” standardized tests only measures superficial learning. What Kohn means is test takers do well because they only need to memorize answers, yet the same can be said of students with an excellent academic record because it cannot be proven that a student does work entirely on his or her own. Additionally, many students forget what they learn from assignment to assignment, and it cannot be proven that doing them guarantees better retention, for these reasons, educators should consider academic record alongside tests.
Alternative to Testing
From many perspectives, it is agreed that the alternative to testing and academic record should be essay tests. An essay may make a good alternative for a student who is test shy because, rather than be penalized for inevitable gaps in knowledge, he or she can show educators what he or she does know about a subject. An essay test provided by educators can include a list of keys or key words, all of which can be made requirements for writing. In this format, it is important not to judge a student so much on the ability to write an essay as it is to judge by the content and the quality of it; in this way, a pro active evaluation can be made while eliminating the negative psychological effects standardized tests have on students.
Additional Personal Comments
In my state, standardized testing is a requirement to graduate from high school, but it is not a requirement to get into most colleges; however, testing is always a part of learning. For this reason, it might be a good idea to encourage test participation, but it is important for educators to make provisions for those who have good academic records. If one does poorly on tests, yet does well on work, then that student should be encouraged to show accomplishments through other outlets, like an essay test or a final project. Another side to this argument that can be encountered is, in some cases, kids will perform poorly in school yet score high on tests; even for these kids, it might suggest that there is something wrong at home or within the learning environment, and it’s important not to simply label a kid as lazy. If parents can figure out how their children learn the best, and educators can remain open and flexible, then standardized testing will never be a threat to the future of students.
Kohn, A., Standardized Testing and its Victims, Alfie Kohn: Education Week.
Phelps, R., The Role and Importance of Standardized Testing…, Non Partisan Education Review.