While reading Wagner’s chapter entitled “Testing, 1 2 3” I became very angry. From my own experiences, I already knew that standardized testing was not a good thing. In theory, No Child Left Behind may seem like a good idea to someone with no background in education, but in reality it is not. Reading this chapter made me more aware of the implications of No Child Left Behind, and strengthened my negative feelings towards standardized tests.
First off, these standardized tests measure basic skills. Students are expected to have learned about a vast array of topics, but their knowledge on each topic does not have to be very deep. Teachers prepare their students for these tests by teaching them strategies of how to dissect multiple choice questions and how to construct a standard essay in response to a prompt that they have never seen before. As a teacher, I know that students learn more when they are fully immersed in one topic for a period of time. Simply mentioning lots of facts and brief details will not aid in a child’s learning at all. While completing a field experience with the guidance of one special educator, I learned that he was able to vastly improve his students’ math performance by deeply engaging them in several topics. He spent a lot of time on each math topic with his students, which allowed them to make much greater strides than if he covered many topics over the course of the school year.
What makes me even more mad is that the time teachers take to prepare their students for these tests actually takes time away from teaching critical thinking, communication skills, and the other survival skills that Wagner states in earlier chapters. Students in schools today are not prepared for college nor are they prepared to be citizens in this world. Why? Too much time is spent on prepping for the standardized tests! In chapter one of The Global Achievement Gap, Wagner discusses that students entering college or the work force do not know how to problem-solve, work on a team, or communicate their ideas professionally. The reason they cannot do this is because there is no time to teach these skills in schools. If colleges and employers are not looking for the basic skills tested on standardized tests, then why do we still administer them to students, multiple times a year?
It’s disgusting to think that policy makers continue to use standardized tests as a means of assessment because they are cheap. On page 124, Wagner states “Factual recall tests are also about ten times cheaper to develop and to score—which is another obvious reason for their popularity with state legislators.” I hope these legislators know that they are actually negatively affecting the future of the nation. If these tests continue to be used for assessment, children in school now will not be prepared to lead and be a part of this country when they are adults. They will not have the ability to think critically or formulate important questions. It’s not their fault—they were never effectively taught these skills in school because too much time was spent preparing for a test that measured nothing of importance.
I agree with the discussion we held in class last week, which was the question of why standardized tests continue to be used, especially when it seems as if the majority of people do not agree with the practice. In Rhode Island, the NECAP has been used for several years. Now the PARCC, another standardized test, will replace NECAPs. The PARCC will be used several times throughout the school year. Why? Is this necessary? The answer is no. When will our nation’s leaders realize that standardized testing and the NCLB is wrong? The over-emphasis on standardized testing will continue to make the global achievement gap even larger.
I found a video that discusses the consequences of NCLB. The video is five years old, yet the message of the video is to change NCLB. It’s sad that it has been five years and nothing has really been done.