In heavily tested grades, more than a month of instructional time is lost thanks to high-stakes test preparation and administration. Over-testing has forced educators to narrow the curriculum and “teach to the test” in an effort to preserve funding for their schools. But what are the other consequences of this broken accountability system? Check out stories from educators and parents below on the impact they have felt in their own classrooms and communities.
Want to share your own story? Click here to let us know how the overuse of standardized tests are hurting your students, children, and public schools.
Douglas J., Evergreen, CO
Students are not standardized.
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Share your story: Tell us how the overuse of standardized testing has hurt your students and schools. Click here ›
In my teaching career I have grown to know hundreds of students who could not be adequately evaluated by standardized tests. The description really says it all — the tests are standardized. Let me assure you — the students are not standardized. Only a small percentage really reacts at their best in the testing situation. Many others whose learning is comparable can demonstrate it much better by writing, speaking, creating, and solving real-world problems. Our assessments should provide for wide variety of ways in which student learning can be measured and recorded. This misguided effort to evaluate learning solely by standardized tests and punish teachers and schools based on the results must stop!
Lynn R., Chadds Ford, PA
For some [special education] students, the current pressure to achieve unrealistic expectations on state tests is discouraging, frustrating, and humiliating. There is no opportunity for them to take another test which would also show progress unless they are so severely disabled that they are put into another testing track.
I am a special education teacher for students with multiple types of disabilities. In the last few years my district has gone to a full inclusion model. This has provided many opportunities for my students and has allowed most of them to achieve academically beyond what was once thought possible. They have opportunities to make friends and to be a part of everything. For these children, inclusion is great. For some students, though, the current pressure to achieve unrealistic expectations on state tests is discouraging, frustrating, and humiliating. There is no opportunity for them to take another test which would also show progress unless they are so severely disabled that they are put into another testing track. In our state, alternate assessment means not being able to earn a high school diploma. Some of my students need this alternative program but most do not. As the standards ramp up and the “race to the top” is on, some of my students who start the race do not have a chance to finish it successfully – and success means finishing – not winning it.
Many students are in need of something that does not exist -an alternate testing program that will allow them to earn their diploma but will allow them to take tests that show their hard work and progress which is coming at a slower rate.
The progress is there. This child may be academically less than 1-2 years behind nondisabled peers. Retention is not an appropriate option. With extra help and time, they may be able to eventually earn that diploma and meet the criteria. Why should these children be frustrated and humiliated in elementary school when they are unable to achieve all the standards as quickly as others? Are there not better ways to show their progress?
Kari C., Leadville, CO
The expectation that these students learn English and take and pass our state test alongside their native English-speaking counterparts in two years is ridiculous, especially with the minimal support we provide these students.
I live in a small community where the demographic changes over the last ten years have changed the face of our population and posed a challenge for which we were unprepared. We now have a very high percentage of ESL learners and we are clearly not meeting their needs. The expectation that these students learn English and take and pass our state test alongside their native English-speaking counterparts in two years is ridiculous, especially with the minimal support we provide these students.
Jane K., Riverbank, CA
She took one look at it and said, “I can’t do this.” And didn’t.
When my daughter was in 3rd grade, she loved school and loved to read. They had beautiful textbooks at her school in CT, with large print and beautiful illustrations. It was a huge shock to her the day they had her first standardized test. The text was small, in a big chunk and there were no pictures at all! She took one look at it and said, “I can’t do this.” And didn’t. Her school had us talk to her counselor who recommended she see a counselor who specialized in “test anxiety.” So we did, and that went ok. She took the tests, did her anti-anxiety strategies, and never again loved school or reading quite as fully as she had. She still dreads taking tests and doesn’t do well on them.
We need to do better for our children. We need to train teachers well and thoroughly (subject areas and pedagogy), pay them well and treat them with respect, and let them teach! Filling in dots is not a skill my daughter needs to learn. She has learned how to investigate, gather data, read and interpret it, and come to and write about her own conclusions. She has an amazing creative genius that lies entirely outside the realm of standardized tests!
June S., Strasburg, PA
Students have lost the will to learn for the sake of knowing and expanding their own minds.
I see and hear too many students who ask, “Is this on the test? Why do we need to learn it then?” Students have lost the will to learn for the sake of knowing and expanding their own minds. They often have difficulty thinking beyond what the tests require.
20 days of testing is not the answer to good public education; learning to think critically and read and understand critically is. Please stop the mania of testing and focus on cutting through the bias of the media by having students apply knowledge–not just regurgitate it.
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