I hear a lot of people putting down standardized tests. What many fail to realize, is that almost every profession has some sort of written standardized test! You cannot be a lawyer, nurse, doctor, contractor, or... The list is endless.
We even make people take a standardized test to get a driver's license!
Standardized tests are not bad! In fact, at the moment, it is the ONLY thing we have to measure student performance.
Teachers have many complaints about the test. But again and again, you only hear about wanting to get rid of them. That's bad. As stated above, standardized tests are not bad. In fact, teachers in California must take a standardized test, the CBEST test, to become a teacher! Why? Again, they are not bad, they are common, and they are the only thing we have!
Add to this the fact that many colleges and universities were sick and tired of getting freshmen who cannot read or write at a freshman level. Many people agreed that we were graduating students who lacked skills. This is not what we want. But, we allowed the system to move students along and not make them accountable. A high school diploma meant almost nothing. Here again in California, the high school exit exam was enacted. It really tests at a 9th or 10th grade level. Why do we complain? Don't we as teachers want to show the world our students are capable? Plus, I find it ironic that virtually all colleges have some sort of entrance exam. How about graduate school? You probably cannot get a masters degree unless you take a standardized test!
Standardized tests are not evil. What is, is killing students by having them sit for hours taking them. What do we really need to do? How about these:
1)Shorten the test. There is no way I need to answer 50 questions for someone to know that I can understand what I read.
2)Make the test count towards the students grade. Every subject should have an end of semester test, standardized, and curriculum driven.
3)Pay the students! Okay, at first you think I'm nuts. Not so fast. I know of schools and districts that spend thousands of dollars on prep classes and remedial work. Fine and dandy. But how about taking some of that money and paying the students? If you score at the proficient level, you get $100, and each increment gets lower amount. Even the bottom. I can almost assure you that you would get more bang-for-the-buck by spending money this way. The students now have a HUGE incentive to actually take the test and do well! Instead of spending cash on useless programs, spend it wisely!
3)Stop putting down tests! It's all we have and it makes us look like whiners. If the real world runs on standardized tests, lets work together to implement them the right way. If not, we will continue to have other people's tests shoved down out throats. We as teachers need to take control of what and how these tests are given.
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