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Testing failures: Standardized testing is proving to be substandard

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist reads to Houghton Elementary School first-graders on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. Pictured are J.T. Swetich, Jensen Bard, Alivia Baril, Alex Bukovich, Zander Wall and Vivian Mattson. While the students pictured are not subject to standarized testing, older students will likely go through it even though the 2020-21 school year has more interruptions than a normal year.

HOUGHTON — It is likely that schools will be compelled to undergo standardized testing, even after the repeated interruptions of in-classroom learning that began a year ago. What is hoped to be learned from the results, however, is apparently up for debate.

For decades, standardized testing has met with ever-increasing criticism from educators, parents, school administrations, and even published findings of university studies. Yet, in spite of the data pointing to the tests being counter productive, the government continues to push them.

On May 22, 2012, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing published a report submitted by FairTest, which stated that standardized test scores are not very valuable.

The report states classroom surveys show that most teachers do not find scores from standardized tests scores very useful. The tests do not help a teacher understand what to do next in working with a student, because they do not indicate how the student learns or thinks. Nor do they measure much of what students should learn.

The 2002 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act led to an enormous increasing in testing. The federal act requires state testing of every student in grades 3-8, and once in high school, more than twice previous federal mandates. NCLB also led to an explosion of other standardized exams, including “benchmark” tests often administered 3-10 times per year.

“U.S. students are now the most tested on Earth,” states the FairTest report.

A 1999 report of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) titled: “Why Standardized tests don’t measure educational quality,” stated that testing, in one form or another, actually begins before a child begins before Kindergarten.

Kindergarten round-ups are typically spring meetings in which teachers, parents, and future kindergartners get to know one another and prepare for the children’s transition from home to formal education, the report states. However, many schools have used the round-up as an opportunity to screen for school readiness; teachers recommend some children to attend a developmental kindergarten or to wait another year before coming to school. Yet, research shows that these early school assessments, whether they test for academic ability or social maturity, are generally invalid predictors of future success in school.

“Kindergarten round-ups should never be used to separate kindergartners of diverse abilities,” the report cautions. “Rather, they should serve as a springboard for continued and open communications between parents and teachers; assess students for specific learning impairments that can be corrected before school starts; and allow parents, students, and teachers to share meaningful information about early learning concepts.”

Houghton Elementary School Counselor Micah Stipech told the Daily Mining Gazette that even after a school year that has seen repeated interruptions of face-to-face learning, standardized testing is likely to occur soon.

“Of all the things to push on with, I struggle with that one,” he said. “If you weigh the cow more, it doesn’t give you more milk.”

Stipech said an example he uses to point out the major flaw is to suppose a military unit is losing ground in battle, and the response is to claim that the unit members are not trying hard enough, so to encourage them to do better, limit their resources and expect better results.

“That is the accountability If your students are struggling in school,” said Stipech.“We’re going to give you fewer resources and expect better results.”

Jan Resseger, in her June 22, 2020, online article, “If high stakes standardized testing fades, lots of awful punishments for students, teachers, and schools would disappear,” hit on that same point. She wrote that states have branded those schools and school districts (with low test results) as failures, and continue in several significant ways to punish the nation’s most vulnerable schools instead of providing support. Across the United States, public schools in the poorest communities continue to receive less funding than the schools in America’s wealthiest and most exclusive suburbs.

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