Obama Backs Anti-Standardized Testing

By Rebecca Jackson, Circulation Manager

In a video posted to the Internet, President Barack Obama pledged to take a step toward reducing the amount of standardized testing for middle and high school students.

According to the video released Oct. 24 from the White House, Obama feels that standardized testing is taking up too much instructional time and causing too much stress on students and teachers. Obama asked states and school districts to limit time used on assessments to no more than two percent of classroom hours and promised to ask Congress to turn this idea into a law.

A Council Of Great City Schools Report of the Nation’s 66 largest school districts found that from pre-K to 12th grade, 112 exams are taken. The tests take up 20 to 25 hours per year, which is 2.3 percent of classroom time.

Each year, students face several required standardized tests, including the HSA, SAT, ACT and APs.

“I think Obama heard parents and students and the grand perception that a lot of excessive testing brings a lot of stress and anxiety to students,” Principal Joan Benz said. “People question not only why so many, but sometimes the intensity of them.”

Many students will support Obama’s decision to limit them.

“These tests cause students so much stress,” senior Dana Gilbertson said. “Without that stress they’ll be able to focus better and actually learn the material and retain it. Getting the students to actually know the material is much better than teaching to a test.”

Junior Chloe Blomquist agrees.

“Obama should find other solutions for students who are college ready but are not great test takers,” Blomquist said. “Everyone learns differently, and standardized test taking comes harder for some people.”

As Obama deals with standardized testing for the nation, the MCPS Board of Education is currently focusing on the local issues of excessive testing.

“I think what Obama is doing is actually aligning with what our Board of Education is doing,” Benz said. “As of right now it seems like we might not have our two-hour final exams in June. There are certain groups that are very much for it and other groups that are not.”

According to senior Anthony Ratinov, eliminating final exams would give students less stress, but final grades would then depend on quarter trends rather than a better grade on the final exam. He has found the final exam very helpful because he has used it to improve his final grade multiple times.

“Instead of an exam, there can be a group project or an individual project,” Benz said. “It doesn’t all have to be a paper and pencil summative test.”