There are many types of assessment in life – formal, informal, mental, physical, spiritual, psychological, etc. We take tests to become certified in our professions, we undergo medical testing in order to diagnose and treat an illness, and we challenge ourselves to possess mental toughness. We have been shaped for assessment our entire lives as we begin rigorous standardized testing in school at a young age. Some people may argue that this practice helps individuals develop a healthy practice of goal-setting and organized preparation that can extend into adulthood. Some argue that more and more young students are developing text anxiety and other negative side effects as a result of the constant high-stakes testing they face. After A LOT of research on the use of standardized testing as a benchmark for school accountability, I propose that all states in our country throw out differing standardized testing practices in favor of a national progress-monitoring model. Details of this proposal are outlined below.
1a. My third recommendation is on the state and national level.
1b. My recommendation is that there be one national standardized test measuring student progress and all other high-stakes testing at the state level be eliminated.
1c. This recommendation is in response to my observations of media coverage of the institution of education as well as the information in the units Assessment, Contexts and SES, and Educational Policy.
1d. “Chapter 14: Standardized Testing” gives a detailed account of the types of tests that are administered in schools today. On page 534, there is a table outlining the “Inappropriate Uses for High-Stakes Test Results,” which include pass/fail decisions and teacher evaluations. The author of this chapter adapted the table from another book that is copyrighted by Pearson, the company that now develops the ISTEP+ tests and the teacher certification exams in Indiana. All three of these “inappropriate uses” are being implemented by schools and the government in the state of Indiana. National federal laws are passed that require states to implement accountability systems, and then the responsibility is handled by each individual state government. The reality of life in our country, though, is not quite as clear cut. Individuals do not always grow up in one state, go on to attend college in that state, and then settle into life and a career in the same state. Most often, individuals move from state to state while growing up and attending school, university, and advancing in their career. Allowing states to impose vastly different sets of standards and administer vastly different standardized tests results in many confused students, parents, and citizens of our nation.
1e. One result of this recommendation is that students can move from state to state and at least have some idea of what to expect regarding standardized testing. Teachers would be able to understand the students’ scores from previous years and actually know if they achieved target growth, instead of wondering how the different states’ tests are to be interpreted. A second result is that states could spend more time, effort, and money on improving school climate and encouraging schools to seek funding for academic programs that are focused on higher-order critical and creative thinking skills. A third result would be a higher level of unity in our nation among those involved in the education system.
What do you think about high-stakes standardized testing?