Institutionalized Thinking

A young student nervously prepares his notes for the upcoming test.

He folds his note card neatly in his binder, pulls out his study sheet and tries to cram those last few trivial facts into his mind only to forget them a few hours later after he has taken the test. This is a highly common occurrence among young students these days, but is the tried and true standardized test a valid test of intelligence or just a test at who can remember the most? Is it meant to make the school money or the student smarter? Or is it just to increases the already high stress levels of the student? How about all three? The standardized test has been around for a long time now. Its prominence has increased though in the last few years due to the “No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This act mandated annual testing in all states which would lead one to believe that the education system in America is just fine; to the contrary, as of 2002 the United States is 31st in math in the world with equally low scores in all other subjects. Much of this has been blamed on the old methods of standardized tests. Its name has evolved a few times and its most recent identity is the Scantron.

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The idea behind this test is to give every student an equal chance at doing well by giving the exact same kind of test to each student. But not all students can deliver information onto the paper like that. According to W. James Popham, former president of the American Education Research Association, a standardized test can be defined as “any test that’s administered, scored, and interpreted in a standard, predetermined way”. So this statement alone would lean towards the suppression of independent thinkers and innovators, which seems contradictory to what America’s education stands for right? According to Peter Stacks, author of standardized minds “it encourages a simplistic way of thinking where there is only right and wrong answers, this does not apply to real world situations.

” Not only does it encourage a unified way of thinking but it suppresses creative thinking and outside- the- box thinking. It gives the student a false sense of equality ship, meaning that just because you test every student the same way doesn’t mean every student will receive a fair chance. The theory behind this is that not every student learns and delivers information the same way. NCLB was made to make sure every child in America would get an equal chance to learn and prosper. What it was not intended for was to create a financial problem amongst the Education Department yet it somehow managed to do so. As of 2012, taxpayers in Texas are expected to pay around $88 million in testing funds.

That’s $88 million out of that states education budget. But more importantly, older students are not taking the tests seriously anymore. Many juniors at New Mexico’s Valley High School are drawing hearts and battleships on the Scantrons in protest over the NCLB mandate of the testing said an English teacher who worked there. These tests are more for the government to rate the school on the intelligence of its students than to help teach the students. The state mandate tests are also to acquire the school funds. More times than not the school will be more concerned with its money than the actual students that attend the school.

A recent survey done at WPHS asked the students of one English class a series of three questions one of which was “Do you believe that these tests were put into place to gain the school money rather than to help educate the student”. Seventy five per cent of students answered saying ” to gain the school money”. One student said “that it was only to help line the pockets of schools”. Another student said “it’s really silly how we must do such mind numbing mediocre testing”. Out of the entire class (15) only 2 students were opposed to getting rid of mind numbing standardized testing. Another student said ” it would alleviate so much unnecessary stress if we did not have to take these tests” many students feel the same way, in fact another high school class in new Mexico would only draw shapes into the scantron.

The stress of school can be overwhelming a lot of the time. Too much homework, not enough sleep and the stress of finals. Ever since 2001 the “No Child Left Behind Act” has been forcing schools to become stricter with their testing. A lot of the time that means putting more weight on them, making it so if you don’t get a certain score you can’t graduate to the next grade or even dropping you from the course. Most of these stresses can be handled much easier when you’re older.

But for many students these fears are a reality as early as the 3rd grade. A 2009 study showed that they are making kids feel like failures as early as 3rd grade, according to a three year study completed by the Gesell Institute of Human Learning showed increases in the emphasis on standardized testing in elementary schools. Also their recess has been shortened for a more in depth, lengthy lesson on test taking especially standardized tests which in turn means less time to enjoy their childhood and more stress on their tiny body’s. These kids will encounter enough stress in their lives in the future, do we really have to start so early. There have been many studies done showing that starting this early with testing really does not improve test scores, but ultimately makes the child more reluctant to take these types of tests. So my fellow students, readers, and opponents to standardized testing, is this really the way to go? With so much evidence against it, it would only be the reasonable choice to oppose it.

The sanity, money, and childhood of your young students depends on it. The standardized testing is geared for more of a budget financial panacea rather than to help gauge the students knowledge on the subject. So when it comes down to it after all the evidence has been laid out does it look like standardized testing is really in the favor of the students mind or is it just in the favor on hurting the student.