How Standardized Tests Fail to Help Students Learn

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Standardized tests are used for more than simply comparing schools and students. Many supporters of standardized tests argue that tests help kids learn, and the results help their teachers teach. They do not. Standardized tests do not help teachers teach, nor do they help students learn. Only tests scores are returned to teachers after tests are taken. Some tests return a brief description of what very general area students are deficient in (Delisle). It denies the instructor the ability to truly find out why his students do not perform well on the test. Professor of Education, James R. Delisle says that the score does not help the teacher create lesson plans to help out students who did not do well on the test.

Often, standardized tests do not test current concepts taught in schools. Most standardized tests test concepts that are no longer being taught. After creating questions for a test, a testing company must norm a test. This is a complex statistical analysis that must be done in order to "standardize" a test. Most of the time this takes between five to eight years (Perrone 22). Entailing this time, the time used to write the actual questions, and financial constraints, a testing company publishes a test approximately every eight years. This means that a test taken today could have been created using 1989 concepts!. This would mean that students would be tested on decade old concepts, while being taught current concepts. This would obviously make for inaccurately low test scores

In his speech on education reform, Bill Clinton urged over and over that a national standardized test would help students aim for higher standards, and thereby do better in school. What Clinton failed to see is that, in testing only very basic skills, standardized tests cater to a lowest common denominator, i.e. they test only the minimum of what is acceptable (Delisle). Only a third of the California Achievement Test actually tests advanced thinking skills. The rest of the test focuses on low level ideas such as arithmetic and capitalization (Wagner). Standardized tests do not help children achieve more. They simply test what is adequate. They lack concepts that will help students achieve more.

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