Standardized Testing: It’s Just Material


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Standardized testing is causing students to miss out on other important aspects of their education.

By Sai Sreenivasan, Observations Editor

Standardized testing. It’s a topic that has been discussed time and time again. However, most of the discussion has been on the impacts of the test and not the material itself.

According to a recent Washington Post article, poet Sara Holbrook is questioning the material and questions placed in standardized tests.

Standardized tests are a big part of students and teachers lives. With the HSA looming around the corner this reminds us once again that there is no escape to the endless testing. Yet, the material on these tests are not always relevant to what students learn in the classroom.

Every student has  experienced the odd question on standardized test which seems to have no true answer. Students begin to question themselves and everything they know just because of one question! In the same way, poetry has become the enemy for many students who struggle to wrap their heads around the complicated language and unclear ideas.

Most students are exposed to poetry in elementary school through Shel Silverstein and then reintroduced in high school through verbose eighteenth century poets. Suddenly there was a “right” way to read and understand poetry to fulfill the curriculum.

The material that students are taught is mostly dictated by the county, but teachers spend time emphasizing certain topics over others.

According to a study by the National Science Foundation, teachers feel pressure from standardized tests and are more likely to base their curriculum on the tests and to drill students for them.

So while students are focusing on learning information that is necessary for the exam, they often miss out on essential material.

Whether or not we realize it, students take classes that are based around the end goal of taking a standardized test, like the Advanced Placement Exams.

AP courses flourish at CHS, which is a competitive environment. Students spend months poring over prep books and flashcards until the final day of the test. But ultimately the final score determines how well students have “mastered” the material.

According to a August 2013 Politico article, although enrollment in AP classes have soared, the percent of students passing has fallen.

In the end everything comes back to the material on these exams. Students study what they expect to be on the test, trying to memorize literary terms and formulas.

What if students  began to learn without the focus placed on a test? If students were able to learn for the sake of exploring a subject. Maybe students would even like poetry when reading it for fun.

According to a 2014 Huffington Post article, if poetry didn’t appear on standardized tests, students would not even touch poetry at all.

Without standardized testing, poetry could become more than just a supplement. It could becomes an outlet for students that they choose to undertake rather than it being a material that is forced upon them. In the same way, current events could become more prominent in APUSH and less of an afterthought.

Standardized tests are no more than their material but they should not be able to dictate education for students. Students should be able to learn past their exam material because that is the only way for growth to continue.