Across the state, students have just received their scores back from taking their spring standardized tests. Some students are elated, while others are in despair. Standardized testing has been around for years, but the question still remains; are standardized tests effective? In 1979, the Texas State Legislature decided that all students would be mandated by law to take a test on basic skills in third, fifth, and ninth grades. The test that was first created was the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills (TABS), which assessed student’s abilities in reading, writing, and mathematics. In 1984, the state decided to increase the rigor on the test and created the Texas Educational Assessment of Minimum of Skills (TEAMS). In 1991, the test was then changed to the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), and in 2001, the test was changed to the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). The current exam, which has been in place since 20l1, is the State of Texas Assessment for Academic Readiness (STAAR). There have been a lot of changes in the last twenty plus years, and STAAR is the most difficult test that the students must take on their academic journey. Each test has had its own requirements and different levels of rigor, but many parents, teachers, and even students have advocated for the removal of standardized testing. Listed below are just a few reasons why the test should be removed.
- It’s stressful– It is not only stressful on the students, but on the teachers as well. Students are depending on a test to help them get to the next grade, and at the high school level, a students’ graduation depends on it. In addition, some teachers are held accountable for their student’s performance.
- Teachers are forced to teach a test– When teachers signed up to become a teacher, they didn’t sign up to teach a test. Some teachers are being forced to only teach a curriculum that is catered to the STAAR test. This is not only mentally draining, but it takes away the love and creativity the teacher once had for their desired career.
- The test isn’t fair– Some students who have only been in the United States for a few weeks or maybe even a few years still have the same requirements for those students who have lived here their entire life. It isn’t right, nor is it fair. Imagine going to a different country and being required to pass a test in a different language in order to graduate high school. How would you feel?
- The questions are too difficult– As an English teacher myself, I have even struggled with some of the questions on the released test. What I find even more hilarious is when author, poet, and educator Sara Holbrook couldn’t even answer the questions on the STAAR test that were about her own poem. In an article that she wrote with the Huffington Post about this issue, she stated, “These test questions were just made up, and tragically, incomprehensibly, kids’ futures and the evaluations of their teachers will be based on their ability to guess the so-called correct answer to made up questions.”
- Confidence killers- Every semester, I am telling kids that this test doesn’t define who they are. Some students even tell themselves that they aren’t smart because of this test. It crushes their confidence, and it lowers their self-esteem. It hurts me when I hear students talk down on themselves or even second guess what they are truly capable of.
If history continues, then standardized testing won’t be going away anytime soon. If anything, a new test will come out before testing goes away. I encourage teachers, parents, students, community leaders, and everyone to continue to be a voice for teachers and students. There are many issues in the public education system that aren’t being addressed. Students and teachers are under a lot of pressure daily, especially when it comes time for testing. Please keep our students encouraged, and constantly remind them that they are greater than a test!