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STAAR Spurns Standardized Testing Concerns

STAAR Spurns Standardized Testing Concerns

Is it time to dispose of standardized testing?

Grading can be difficult on an individual level- what separates an “A” from a “B” on an English essay? Does a student who demonstrates knowledge of the concept but makes a simple mistake get half credit? These answers vary from instructor to instructor, and it only gets more complicated when you add more students. Measuring an individual’s progress can be strenuous enough, but how do you evaluate an entire class? A school? A district, a state, a whole country? Well, one answer is standardized testing, but that’s been met with increasing skepticism.

The State of Standardized Testing

Since No Child Left Behind(NCLB), parents and educators have rebelled against the notion of standardized tests being the metric of students’ and teachers’ success. Contenders argue that NCLB was a failure and a poor tool for measuring actual learning. However, standardized tests continue to be the main way that officials measure educational progress. The vast majority of states still use them to hold districts and teachers accountable. Predictably, this has led to push back against standardized testing, and recent events have only fueled the fire.

Parents were aghast over the results 2016 STAAR exam (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). Not because their children performed poorly, but because of issues with the vendor, Educational Testing Services. Problems ranged from computer glitches that erased students’ answers to losing tests altogether, according to the Dallas Morning News. This caused a lot of concern of whether students would still face the consequences of such a flawed exam. Parents worried that their children would be forced to attend summer school or repeat a grade level. And while districts have dismissed consequences against elementary and middle schoolers, they are unable to do so for high school seniors. Their graduation requirements are mandated by law, which specifies that seniors must pass three of the five exams, and the delayed results are preventing some seniors from graduating with their class. Furthermore the STAAR exams will still count towards individual school accountability .

Judging Standardized Testing

School officials give standardized testing a lot of weight, and this is limiting more than empowering. The STAAR exam, like all standardized tests, faces the same basic problems:

  • Some students are poor test takers.
  • Instructors are forced to teach to the test, not what will best serve the students’ futures.
  • Not all teachings styles are conducive to individual learning styles (any Austin Tutor worth their salt could tell you that).
  • Tests punish creativity. It is about right or wrong, A or B, 3 or 3.5? This works well for math, but is detrimental for humanities.
  • They cannot properly assess critical thinking.
  • It encourages cheating, since students and teachers alike know how important these tests can be for their future.

And those are just disadvantages with the test themselves; as illustrated above, it is an additional ordeal afterwards. Not only are standardized tests harming students’ education by morphing how they are taught, it is hurting their ability to move on to the next level. However, they are also clearly here to stay for some time. Because they can be so important in determining a student’s future, it is crucial that they perform well.

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