Standardized Tests and Their Effect on the Community

There are many types of standardized tests used within schools to determine levels of intelligence and knowledge of subject matter. Teachers and the school board use these test results to determine areas that need improvement for the student and what subject areas they excel in. For students, many of them do not like taking tests especially when they hold a very high standard for where they are placed or what they are able to achieve from those results.

Teachers can hold mixed viewpoints regarding the standardized tests because if a student has trouble taking tests but knows the subject matter then the results do not accurately reflect their knowledge. Students approach these standardized tests in a different ways. Some will study intensely to know the material because they want to do well on the test and often know how important they are to their success. Others will also study throughout the year or prior to the test but could allow their nerves to take over or exhibit such concern or fear over the test that they do not do well.

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The results of these tests are important but more is factored into them than just how well someone does on them. Being prepared, knowing the material, having good test taking skills, and a good attitude or being less stressed play a large part on the test score. Some of the standardized testing is done on an annual basis, during specific grade levels, or throughout high school in preparation for college entrance.

FCAT is a test that many students and teachers in the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade are aware of and take much time throughout the year preparing for the standards of the test because it determines whether a student is able to be promoted to the next grade level. This is one test in particular that students do not like simply because they know if they do not do well then they could be put in a class with lower standards or they may not be able to move up the following year.

For students that transfer in from other states or another county where FCAT is not utilized, it is an adjustment that they must get used to in order to meet the standards of the particular state they live in and they could struggle with the test material. One reason is because the state or country they came from may be teaching at a higher or lower level or may not be covering the same material or curriculum. The SAT and ACT tests are more common for high school students and their entrance into colleges.

These tests help gauge by test scores which classes they will be placed in when they attend college or whether they are exempt from specific classes. This testing, while very important to students, brings a different stress because of the ability to take it over and the amount of preparation time they have. The anticipation of the test result score can bring more tension than the actual test itself for the student.

For anyone who left high school or received a general education diploma (GED), they may not have been exposed to these tests and would be required to take a college placement test (CPT) to determine their aptitude in mathematics, reading, and writing. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests are also given to determine intelligence levels of adults and children by a range of average scores for the specific age group. Because there is an average score range that most people are expected to fall within, if someone falls below that then they are not considered as intelligent.

That stigma can cause people to think less of themselves or be looked down on in a community reducing respect that they would otherwise earn from their work standards or exhibited knowledge. Many jobs may use IQ tests to determine knowledge in addition to job specific or previous employment experience. IQ test studies have also been done to relate income levels with position and test results. This can seem harsh to some people because it categorizes people by general or average studies which do not relate to all parties in those groupings.

Because someone is in a white collar position, they may be looked at as having a lower IQ score when in fact they might test higher than the average and does not give the appropriate respect to them. A community also has an impact on the type of jobs in a specific area and even the educational levels attained for the employment. IQ and Standardized tests have changed over the years since their inception to accommodate the type of information tested on, how the tests are administered, and the scoring of results.

While the tests have been modified, there are still areas that are not always taken into consideration such as culture and the impact that a society has on intelligence. There are many cultures that focus on trade specifics, the arts, philosophy, and do not always focus solely on academics. Some societies may be heavily exposed to agriculture or industrial aspects and not experiencing abstract scenarios, puzzle solving, and strategies. This is where these tests can be challenged and some might not perform as well on them.

They may know mathematics, history, and reading but do not understand how to think through some of the problem solving or puzzles presented to them. Standardized tests given, especially multiple choice ones, allow a school or teacher quick results on where their students are in comparison to national standards or as a comparison with other schools in their state. “Standardized multiple choice tests…are and should be the primary instrument we use to measure student progress. ” (“School Reform,” p. 81).

By doing this, a school can find which subject areas need more academic progress and teaching. Teachers are able to then find new ways to incorporate the needed material to improve the students’ test scores on future assessments. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law requires that schools have students that meet certain criteria on testing to show their knowledge in specific academic areas. This has helped schools to bring students up to an acceptable level before they are able to move on to the next grade or level of learning.

For students who were performing on lower levels in their school, they were usually not given the same attention from teachers as students who had higher test scores or exhibited a higher level of learning. The NCLB law changed this for students of poorer academic levels because all students have to meet the same academic levels and the schools and teachers are accountable for reaching this requirement. If a school receives funds from NCLB and they do not perform well then they could be evaluated for review along with the teachers.

Students from poorer districts may still struggle with testing because they are limited in their resources. Schools in these areas may not have enough books for each student for the subjects they are learning. There could also be a lack of resources in regards to the amount of teachers available in these districts which results in overcrowding of students in the classrooms. Students are not always prepared in the same manner for these tests as students in other districts are but they are all still required to take the same test and meet the same level of achievement.

Many of the tests might seem easier to students who come from wealthier families, have parents with higher education levels, and be in schools that are more prepared with adequate staff and resources. Students who come from single parent homes, have parents with lower education levels, and are from a lower income status tend to struggle more with testing. School is not always seen as a high focus in their community and the teaching levels could be lower in the school. Providing for their families and sometimes surviving the crime in their area might take a higher priority.

Technology is another area where schools could be lacking with the availability of computers and research material for students to expand their knowledge. This can be true in the homes of the students as well because they may not have use of technology or even time from their parent or guardian to assist with schoolwork. Community impacts the varying test results when they make a bigger deal of the high test results such a focus that students feel if they do not achieve the desired score then they are not worthy and no longer focus on their education.

Students may decide to drop out of school to focus on finding employment which could be limited because of their educational level. In the same fashion, a community can focus on the lower test scores and put a stigma around those students which can either provide a student with more focus to do well or to just accept the lower scores as normal. If a student is denied the ability to advance to the next grade and is retained, fellow students look differently on them and so do many teachers.

While teachers will work to improve the student’s ability, there are times when students may go through the motions to get by and are eventually passed to the next grade because they can only be retained so many times. It is hard for schools who are trying to improve their overall test scores for students because they have to teach many subjects and may choose to teach to the tests rather than building on the students’ ability to problem solve or use critical thinking to analyze situations.

If a school teaches to the tests, then the students are losing out on a well rounded education which includes music, the arts, history, and studies of interest. Many people may question why the standardized testing is such a high focus and one viewpoint is “standardized testing results often create a narrowly taught curriculum because these test results are considered “high stakes” measurement” (“Standardized Testing,” p. 17). May students prepare for these tests by participating in drills that a teacher may provide or computer programs that quiz them with various activities in the subject atter. While they will learn from this fashion, sometimes it can cause a student to focus on memorization rather than a true understanding of the material to show their achievement. Schools may also have many factors that are related to the test scores because some students improve while others receive lower test scores than before and it would appear that the school stayed the same. By looking at individual scores of the students in a classroom, a district can see the level of improvement and determine whether that teacher had improvement or not with the students.

Students who are English Language Learners (ELL) may also struggle with standardized tests because of their language barrier; “the majority of ELLs do not perform as well as native English speakers on the standardized tests. ” (“School Reform,” p. 111). When it comes to the reading and writing sections of the testing, this can be extremely complicated for them because they are not only trying to understand what the questions are and what is expected of them, but they have to write out their answers in English and they could have problems trying to put it in the correct format.

For some of the schools with a high population of ELL students, the school’s overall test scores may not reflect high and the other students who performed well are mixed in with the entire average. One problem that a school may have with the results of standardized testing is between all of the variances with students. A school may have student transfers from other states or countries, students with disabilities, a mix of socioeconomic statuses, diverse home situations, and students who require additional assistance in their learning program.

All of these factors can impact the test scores for any individual school regardless of where they are located. One opinion regarding tests and how they correlate to graduation or advancement indicates “youth of color, those who speak English as a second language or who have a disability or are from low-income families are disproportionately denied a diploma because of a test score” (“School Reform,” p. 100). Teachers have to work with students who are on different levels in reading, writing, and math. This can be complicated if a school is understaffed or have larger class sizes of students.

Many schools will provide teachers that come into the classroom or remove students to assist with many of the students who are on lower levels, have individualized education programs (IEPs), or special programs that they attend. This is another reason why it is hard for teachers to have the same curriculum for a specified grade level and to teach to a test’s standards when there are students of varying levels within the classroom. While a standard test is required to gage where students are and to assist the school, it can also be disrespectful if it causes labeling of the students within the students, school administration, and community.

When parents receive updates regarding their student’s test results, it should allow them to see if their child is ranking below average, average, or above average. This is one way that parents can be involved in their student’s success along with progress reports from the teacher each semester. It is important within a district or state to understand what the standards are for the assessment criteria to see how it really measures up with what a child is learning. When a report indicates that a child is doing average or even above average, the general consensus would be that the student is doing well.

If a state has standards set very low, then a child who is average or above average may not be doing as well against another state’s standards and could suffer if they moved. Likewise, if a student is doing below average and the standards are set very low then there is even more work to be done with the student to bring their levels up and not fall further behind. When looking at an entire school’s test scores, if they are low then they receive a lower grading for the school rating and are looked at as not doing well.

If the test score is high, then they receive a higher grading for their school and the community sees them as performing well and “scores on standardized tests are typically the ones used to judge a school’s success” (“School Reform,” p. 87). Many parents look at the school’s grading when they are moving because they want to have their child in a higher rated school. One question to pose would be if a person has to go to a specific school because of the district that they reside it, does that automatically mean they will not receive a good education and will do poorly on their standardized tests?

For the above question, there are many factors to take into consideration. There is the motivation of the student to learn and do well in school, participation from their parent(s), the academic process and teaching from the school, available resources, test preparedness, socioeconomic status, and community input for the importance of education. While each of these play a role in how well a student or the school will do, ultimately each person has a choice for their academic success and what factors they will let control their pursuit.

While test results or statistics may show that students of color or students from other races may not do as well on standardized tests, there are just as many white students who can perform poorly. Many of the books that were reviewed indicated both positive and negative aspects of standardized testing and also indicated while they are a good measure of standards in the academic area; there are also other ways to look at a student’s knowledge and their ability to show comprehension. Many times students just do not perform well on tests or feel the pressure when taking these tests of importance.

Verbal and non verbal review of material with a teacher can show that a student understands the information for a specific subject as well as performing other types of tasks like projects or activities in the classroom. Knowing and understanding what material will be on upcoming standardized tests is important in order to ensure students and schools are prepared. If a teacher has what the lesson plan requirements are for the year for a specific grade then they should be able to compare that to the testing requirements to determine if there are any gaps.

By doing this, the teacher can see if there are any areas that they will need to include in the lesson plans or if any areas are of major concern then additional time can be focused on those sections. This can help students to know what areas they will be tested on and it can be communicated to the parents. The results of these tests require the information of what is learned in school, in school, and some knowledge that a student may already possess. After completing this research, I have come to many conclusions about standardized testing.

Students may not like the testing but I feel they are important in order to help direct a student’s path for education. I believe that these tests are vital in moving towards a more standard education that is not limited to just the district or state a person resides in. While standardized tests should not be the only indicator for a student’s success and whether they are promoted or not, they do give insight from the test results of where students are compared to what they have learned throughout the year.

Because of all the factors that go into the success or failure of a student’s test results on these standardized tests, there needs to be a way to modify the tests to incorporate cultural impacts that level the playing field for all students and respects the socioeconomic differences that play a major part for the students and teachers. Graphs Related to information in the report:

Works Cited

Berlatsky, N. (Ed. ). (2011). School Reform. Farmington Hills, MI. : Greenhaven Press Bily, C. (Ed. ). (2011). Standardized Testing.

Farmington Hills, MI. : Greenhaven Press Murdoch, S. (2007). IQ: A Smart History of a Failed Idea. Hoboken, NJ. : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Shiraev, E. , Levy, D. , Miller, B. , Perry, J. , Perry, E. , Kimmel, M. , …Henslin, J. (2011). Looking At Us: An Interdisciplinary Study of the Human Behaviors. Pearson Learning Solutions. Ludwig, J. (2003). Educational Achievement and Black-White Inequality, Vol. 3, No. 3. Retrieved from http://educationnext. org/educationalachievementandblackwhiteinequality/ Popham, W. (1999).

Why Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Educational Quality, Vol. 6, No. 6. Retrieved from http://www. ascd. org/publications/educational-leadership/mar99/vol56/num06/Why-Standardized-Tests-Don’t-Measure-Educational-Quality. aspx Bui, S. , Imberman, S. , Craig, S. (2012). Poor Results for High Achievers, Vol. 12, No. 1. Retrieved from http://educationnext. org/poor-results-for-high-achievers/ Reynolds, C. (2003-2009). Intelligence Testing. Retrieved from http://www. education. com/reference/article/intelligence-testing/

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