There is a reason why the U.S. is ranked 17th academically worldwide. Our education system falls behind because of the overemphasis on standardized testing.
Schools use standardized tests to determine if children are ready for school, group them into classes, and decide whether to promote or retain students. Standardized tests have been part of American education since the mid-1800s. Their use have skyrocketed since 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act, which mandated annual testing in reading and math in the U.S.
Teachers, pressured by the need for adequate standardized test results, often “teach to the test,” meaning they teach only what is required by the district and nothing more. This greatly limits their freedom and gives them time pressure. Students learn nothing but facts that will be on their big end of the year tests. There is no room for creativity and expression.
Firstly, Multiple-choice tests are not an accurate way to separate students of different intelligence. Standardized tests inaccurately define a student’s knowledge. Some students are brilliant thinkers, but poor test takers. No one test can tell everything. External factors that can affect students’ performances on tests include sleep, breakfast, conflict at home, or illness. This can affect students from performing their personal best on that one test day.
Standardized tests are based off of memorization rather than true understanding. “Many teachers mistake signs of apparent understanding for true understanding. Students using the right words and definitions, manipulating formulas correctly, or answering questions with borrowed opinions give the impression they understand”(Edutopia.com).
Also, standardized tests use a multiple-choice format that does not make you think deeply about the topic, encouraging a simplistic way of thinking. It promotes the thought process of choosing only one answer, which does not apply in real-life situations. The real world requires adaptability and problem solving, sometimes in the most creative ways. This is what education should be promoting and teaching, not narrow-mindedness.
With changes to the way we teach and test the children of America, we could create better and smarter people that could follow the ever-changing world.