Is all of this testing good for the kids?
Our state is about to change the standardized test, the ISTEP in favor of the national PAARC test. PAARC is to be a test that measures student growth and teacher effectiveness. Our state will now require students in 3rd grade to pass a test called IREAD with failure of this one test meaning the student will repeat 3rd grade.
I remember taking standardized tests when I was a student. They didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time. Now I see my daughter taking standardized tests and crying during that week because of the pressure she feels. This pressure comes from teacher’s placing such a strong emphasis on students doing well because ultimately their jobs depend on their students doing well on the test.
A recent news article http://www.wthr.com/story/17288525/indiana-students-to-face-new-aptitude-tests talks about under the old ISTEP 70% of students in Indiana passed which means 30% fail. The new PAARC test is touted to be more rigorous. Can our students keep performing well under these conditions? Currently my school also utilizes an Acuity test that predicts what students will do on the ISTEP. This happens 3 times a year. Again my daughter will come home crying because she did poorly on a section that the teacher will explain is O.K. because those standards haven’t been covered yet.
Have standardized tests become a way for companies to make money? I remember my first time I thought that testing companies were a racket was back in college when I had to take the PPST. I had to pay money to take a test that would tell my college if I was smart enough in English and mathematics to be allowed into the teaching school. I guess my college didn’t place enough trust in their own math and English departments to evaluate me. Publishing companies have taken to lobbying politicians and some companies spend over a million dollars in a year lobbying according to the website http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/lobbying.php?ind=B01++ . Why would a publishing company need to lobby a politician? It is because there is big money to be made in the contract for the state standardized tests.
Maybe I have become old and cynical in my views on standardized test scores. I find it interesting that a test graded on a curve (percentiles) would be used to evaluate student achievement and teacher worth. I can’t help but think that standardized tests are not accomplishing what they were originally meant to accomplish. Instead of student achievement it is measuring the teacher, the school district, and serving the politicians.
What do you think? Is it the same across the country?