Is standardized testing all bad? No, of course not! How can a practice focusing on accountability be a bad thing? All other occupations have some kind of standard, so what makes teaching so special? If a doctor never actually cures a single patient or his patients never get better, should he be allowed to continue his practice?
Teachers teach, and we must have a way to measure their performance. After all, this is how society works. Teaching is not like babysitting in which we send over our children to school, and as long as they come home safely for dinner, we are happy. We want our children to learn, to compete, and to have sufficient knowledge when they graduate from high school. In order for that to happen, teachers need to teach. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that teachers are not teaching, but I want to see the results on paper!
Please don’t tell me that standardized tests encourage teachers teaching to the test. There are countries (e.g., Japan and Taiwan) that required students to take a college entrance exam. They are not complaining, aren’t they? In fact, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, their students are doing so much better than the U.S. Can we say that by having a national academic standard, Japanese students and Taiwanese students are doing better in school? Standardized testing gives students a goal to achieve, so they do it!
“But we are not Japan! Our students are so heterogeneous. One size won’t fit all!” Well, this is a good argument. How is it possible for teachers to teach students coming from numerous cultural backgrounds and still expect all of them to achieve to the same level? Nobody said it’s going to be easy, but we have to try! By having a unified standard, we can educate our children in a much more effective way. Scholars around the country are researching the best way to teach lessons. The author of “The Teaching Gap”, James Hiebert, is currently leading a longitudinal study to figure out a lesson plan for all teachers to use at classrooms. It is possible.
Standardized test is necessary for our nation to be on the top of the world. Education is important. We realized how behind we were when Sputnik went up to the sky. It’s time for us to wake up and push our children to be the best they can be.
-SEAN "COLBERT" KAO, ED261