Introduction: The discussion regarding the need for standardized tests in public schools, private schools, and homeschooling centers on the reasons why public schools require these tests. Personally, I oppose the mandatory nature of standardized tests due to their scoring methods and the observed decline in scores over time.
Background: A clear decrease in the quality of standardized tests has been noted over the years.
According to the data provided, there was a 2 percent decrease in math TAKS scores between 2010 and 2011. Additionally, English and reading scores also saw a decline of 1 percent during this time period.
Public schools offer standardized tests for students to compare their education with that of other public school students. These tests do not have any negative consequences for the students who take them. However, home-schooled students have the option to take exams designed by their parents.
In terms of academic performance, grades, test results, GPA, and graduation rates indicate that currently home-schooled and private school students outperform their counterparts attending public schools. Based on these findings, I strongly believe that making standardized tests mandatory is unnecessary.
III. Lines of Argument A.
The decrease in TAKS scores may be attributed to the construction of the test rather than how teachers deliver the material. Standardized tests have evolved over time and have become more challenging, reflecting specific teaching methods and historical factors. In the past, these tests mainly evaluated knowledge with simpler answer choices. However, they have gradually become more difficult for students to understand. It is important to acknowledge that not all students receive an equal education, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Teachers have different approaches to teaching history, and experienced educators better understand how students learn compared to inexperienced teachers who may lack effective engagement skills. That’s why I support either eliminating or modifying standardized testing so that teachers can create assessments tailored to their students’ individual needs.
Standardized tests have proven to be ineffective in improving student achievements. While there may be temporary improvements in test scores, these do not result in long-term changes in learning. The results of these tests have either remained stagnant or slightly declined since their introduction. Rather than aiming to meet a standard, efforts should focus on raising the standard itself instead of simply passing or failing.
Critics argue that standardized tests are unfair and biased because they expect students from different backgrounds and skill levels to answer questions designed for the white, able-bodied majority. Throughout history, tests have primarily focused on American accomplishments while neglecting teachings about other religions or the achievements of different cultures. It would be more beneficial for students from diverse backgrounds to learn about their own culture rather than solely focusing on American culture.
Standardized testing often becomes mandatory for students who may not necessarily have a genuine interest in learning but feel compelled to perform well on the test. Therefore, it is suggested that standardized testing should include more cultural diversity instead of solely focusing on content centered around America.
According to ProCon, there are opposing arguments regarding the positive impact of standardized tests on students. They claim that using student testing, including large-scale and high-stakes standardized tests, has a positive impact on student achievement as reported in 93% of studies.
Having a “positive effect” would motivate students to learn. However, the inclusion of standardized tests has resulted in increased dropout rates, rendering the positive effect questionable. This trend is not limited to just Texas; certain California schools have witnessed a doubling in dropout rates due to standardized testing. According to ProCon, standardized tests are considered reliable and objective measures of student achievement. While standardized tests may provide some level of reliability in assessing student placement, they do not accurately measure student achievement. Factors like students’ lack of understanding or having an off day of guessing can skew the results.
Standardized tests are unreliable because they only measure a student’s performance within a limited time period, leaving them vulnerable to external influences like mood or luck. Additionally, these assessments have not evolved since their creation and are unlikely to change in the future. Consequently, standardized testing does not consider a student’s overall knowledge and abilities, instead relying solely on their performance on test day. As a result, I view standardized testing as an ineffective process that reduces an entire year of instruction into a single evaluation.
In my opinion, instead of evaluating students on all their year-long knowledge in a single day, it would be more beneficial to track their progress. This brings up the question of whether standardized tests should be obligatory for public schools when private schools and homeschooling do not demand them. I personally believe that mandating standardized tests is unnecessary as they fail to accurately measure students’ capabilities. From my perspective, each year these test scores show a gradual decrease.
Standardized tests have gradually worsened in quality over time. From 2010 to 2011, Math TAKS scores dropped by 2 percent and English and reading scores decreased by 1 percent. Public schools use standardized tests so students can evaluate their education compared to that of other public school students without facing any negative consequences. Parents who homeschool their children can create their own exams for them. Currently, both homeschooled and private school students outperform public school students in terms of grades, test scores, GPA, and graduation rates.
I strongly agree that standardized tests should not be mandatory because the decrease in TAKS scores can be attributed to the design of the test rather than teachers’ teaching methods. According to Dallas News, average reading and writing scores nationwide have declined by one point, while math scores have remained unchanged compared to last year. Over time, these standardized tests are likely to worsen due to historical limitations and the pressure on teachers to follow a specific curriculum sequence. In the past, standardized tests focused on assessing students’ overall knowledge; however, now they tend to present more perplexing answer options.
McGraw-Hill Higher Education states that the tests have become increasingly perplexing for students to comprehend their expectations, placing those with limited educational access at a disadvantage. This discrepancy in teaching approaches among history teachers implies that more qualified instructors may possess a superior understanding of student learning compared to newer or less qualified educators.
Experienced teachers possess knowledge on effective teaching methods and handling students, making them more beneficial than new teachers. Therefore, I believe that standardized testing should either be eliminated or modified to allow teachers to create customized tests for their students, as they better understand their individual needs. However, it is important to note that standardized tests have not improved student achievements. According to ProCon, 50-80% of year-over-year test score improvements were temporary and unrelated to long-term learning progress. The tests have remained the same or even shown slight declines, supporting the claim that standardized testing has not contributed to enhanced learning since its inception.
Instead of striving for a pass or fail standard, our aim should be raising overall educational standards. Additionally, standardized tests are unfair and discriminatory towards students with diverse backgrounds and skill levels. They often neglect the needs of groups such as those with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) by writing questions from the perspective of the white, abled majority. Furthermore, these tests mainly focus on American history and do not adequately cover contributions from other religions. If students come from different races or backgrounds, it would be more valuable for them to learn about their own culture rather than just American culture.
Some students lack a true passion for learning and only feel compelled to do so in order to pass exams. The American Standardized test, which lacks variety, should incorporate a wider array of subjects. Studies have demonstrated that student testing, including both extensive and high-stakes standardized tests, has a positive influence on student performance in 93% of instances. This favorable effect should motivate students to engage in learning. Nonetheless, since the implementation of standardized tests, dropout rates have increased, suggesting that they may not be efficacious.
Both Texas and certain California schools have experienced an increase in dropout rates due to standardized testing. According to ProCon, standardized tests are seen as reliable and impartial indicators of student accomplishment. However, while these tests may provide some level of dependability in assessing student progress, they do not fully measure student achievement. This is because some students may struggle with the content or may simply perform poorly on a particular day when guessing answers. As a result, standardized tests can be considered unreliable. To truly demonstrate reliability, it would be necessary for these tests to span a one-month period in order to more accurately evaluate student performance.
Standardized testing has remained unchanged from its inception and will continue to remain unchanged. These tests lack significance as they do not consider the intellectual capacity of students who may be having an off day. Due to this, I view standardized testing as a pointless activity as it focuses on teaching students throughout the year only to assess their knowledge in a single day. If students have learned all the material covered on the test throughout the year, their progress should be continuously recorded instead of being evaluated in a single day that they have been awaiting for an entire year.