State Standardized Testing: My thoughts on whether they are good or bad

 The season of  standardized testing is upon us. Since the introduction of the “No Child Left Behind” Act, state testing has increased ten fold. With this increase, the question stands, "Is state standardized testing good or bad for students? " 

 In Pennsylvania, students are subject to the PSSAs and Keystones. Many schools are even making it a graduation requirement to pass the Keystones even though they hold no real world value.  However, some people are just not good test takers, and the issue then becomes whether or not test results should define a person. The amount of pressure schools put on students to pass these tests is immense, and no teenager in America needs anymore pressure then they already have. There is also a discrepancy when it comes to students being good at all subjects. Some are naturally better in subjects that let them use their creativity, like they would do in art and music, than they are in math or science.  But standardized tests don't account for that. These tests expect everyone to be the same.

 It's not just the students taking the tests who are affected by testing.  Entire classrooms are shut down for testing. Class time that could be spent teaching students something beneficial is wasted on test taking. Funding for schools now also depends on test scores. Schools that really need the money might not get it because some of their students aren't great test takers. Teachers are also judged professionally by these scores. Schools could be losing excellent teachers because of the pressures that testing puts on them.

 Classroom environments also cater to testing. More and more students are just being taught how to take tests and not actual useful curriculum. Teachers need to get a certain amount of information in before these tests, especially those teachers teaching these Keystone test subjects:  Algebra, Biology, and English Literature. This leaves for no room for actual learning, and ultimately, students don't understand what they are being taught.

 State standardized testing is not inherently evil. The idea behind the tests is  actually a good one, but it's the execution that's sloppy. Standardized tests were created to gauge how well American students were learning,  and the attempt to move United States schools up in the international school ranking. However, these tests have had a  reverse effect on everything the government intended to do. Since state standardized testing were launched, the United States has been on a steady decline in the international school ranking system. This is because the testing schedule doesn't  allow students to fully learn and have a complete understanding of a subject. Personally, I think if  the government and schools would put less pressure on it's students and staff to pass these tests, over time. scores and student achievement would naturally rise.

~Shawnee Cranfill

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Chris Corey, Middletown High School South


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