It’s that time of the year when schools start receiving their standardized test grades from the previous year. With those grades comes complaints about fairness, and “teaching to the test” . . . and that’s for the schools lucky enough to get their scores as there always seems to be delays. These kinds of experiences make some question the value of these test at all, but that’s not the right attitude. Standardized tests may have their issues; however, they are a necessary part of the educational system.
The United States has a diverse populace and educational landscape. This necessitates some type of system that gives the government and the public a baseline of information about the educational progress of the schools we are funding. What a standardized test is supposed to do is measure academic achievement by the concepts. Can these students do X. This is a sound and fair system.
What has happened though is certain school districts have assigned rewards to good scores and punishments to bad ones which is something that: A, isn’t fair because those scores reflect more than the teaching students receive in school and B, not an appropriate use of a summative assessment. There are other things people hate about the tests too like the kind of “test prep” it incentivizes or the grading systems that are based on it.
The gripes are understandable, but it’s important to understand that these things are tangent to the actual concept of testing itself and not an inherent part of a testing system.
There is no scenario where standardized testing doesn’t exist. That notion is dead on arrival. The government spends a lot of money on education, and they need some way to measure outcomes. Given this fact, opponents would be better off trying to fix the system we have as opposed to campaigning against the concept entirely.