Standardized tests like the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) and similar tests offered by other states cost millions of dollars to administer and are ineffective, farcical and fatally flawed. Unfortunately since 1965, states have been required to administer assessment tests if they want to receive Federal Aid for Schools. Parochial and private schools don’t receive federal aid, so they are exempt from these exams.
A Multi-Billion Dollar Fiasco
Billions of dollars more are spent in teacher and administrator salaries to “prepare” for these tests that measure the performance of individual schools, administrators, academic departments and department heads. The better the students perform, the better rating the school and it’s administrators get.
Governments and school districts use these performance ratings to determine which schools get the most money, as well as which principals and administrators get fired. That’s why schools waste valuable class time preparing students to take these standardized tests, so the school will get a better rating. Our children, in effect, become pawns in a financial power game that robs them of a quality education.
In reality, the school districts that get the lion’s share of the federal funding, waste millions or even billions of dollars in teacher and administrator salaries prepping students for the tests while the schools that need the funding most usually can’t afford to prep their students more effectively.
Florida’s FCAT Exam Is A Leading Culprit
For months, teachers waste valuable class time preparing students to take tests like the FCAT. Instead of teaching the basis subject curriculum Florida students so desperately need, they focus their energies on instructing students “how to take the test”. Teachers spend hours of class time drilling students on past tests, so they’ll hopefully do better when the real exams come along. In Florida alone, millions of additional dollars are wasted on teacher salaries to prepare students for the standardized FCAT exams rather than for teaching and inspiring students.
In addition, school administrators such as superintendents, principals, associate and assistant principals, department heads along with security and clerical staff spend additional time preparing for these exams. Add in these additional hours spent and the price tag increases into the billions of dollars.
Our Children and The Country Pay The Penalty
But the hidden price tag parents, teachers, administrators don’t see is the quality education our students are being robbed of just to satisfy the financial and power needs of petty politicians and bureaucrats. Politicians, Bureaucrats and Political Wanna-bees use these standardized tests as smoke screens and a “CYA” tactic to enhance their image and support their fraudulent “pro-education” political platforms.
Florida high school students can’t graduate unless they pass FCAT exams. Of course they can’t read at acceptable levels, write intelligently in English or get into competitive colleges outside the state … but they passed the FCAT. Politicians pat themselves on the back because they got schools federal funds and they are blameless for the academic underperformance and functional illiteracy of our nation’s children.
Wasting billions of dollars in preparing students for and administering standardized tests like Florida’s FCAT takes time away from teaching material students in other states are learning. It isn’t providing knowledge or life skills … or helping them get into a great college with a scholarship … or helping them get a job.
Prepare For College and Life … Not Standardized Assessment Tests
Students In China, Japan and throughout Europe are better educated than American students. Let’s follow their models.
Yes, states and school systems need to be held accountable and measured objectively to receive Federal taxpayer funding. But there has to be a better way. Federal school funding shouldn’t be an obstacle to education that makes our children less educated and less-equipped in an ever more challenging global market place.