Here is a well done essay by a UGA student on the national infatuation with standardized testing. It will run in the Monday print AJC. Enjoy
By Brittany Binowski
Not to brag, but in my 16 years as a student, I have consistently earned good grades and today have a 3.8 grade point average at the University of Georgia.
And I have done this despite— not because of — the standardized tests used throughout the state to judge whether students have learned required material.
For complicated reasons, I — and thousands of students like me across the state— don’t do well on standardized tests even though we succeed with other measurements, writing, work study or group projects.
In my writing and self-directed projects, I’m able to demonstrate what I’ve learned, even though it isn’t reflected on standardized tests.
I submit that in our efforts to raise educational standards of our schools and universities, Georgia must get away from its obsession with the standardized test and find better ways to measure student progress.
Inevitably, a teacher whose efficiency (and salary potential) is measured by students’ test scores will teach to test materials rather than teach the subject as it should be taught.
Gov. Sonny Perdue proposes a new merit-based system for judging teacher efficiency based on student performance on standardized tests. This would only exaggerate the state’s problems.
We all know that each class of students is different. Teachers don’t teach the same and students don’t learn the same. Some students pick up material quickly, others struggle with it.
So, why do we rely so heavily on standardized tests which do not account for these unknown variables in the classroom?
These tests assume every class and every school is the same and ignore the individual characteristics and needs of students and the communities in which they live.
I believe teachers should adapt lessons to the community around them, not to standardized tests, and teach students what is the most relevant, important and helpful to them at that time.
After all, school is not just about subjects covered in class. It also is about personal growth.
Teachers must be free to contend with the individual personalities of each student, teaching each how to behave maturely and solve problems inside and outside of the classroom. Those valuable lessons cannot be measured or tested easily.
Most of my UGA classes do not focus on analogies and sentence completions, the stuff of standardized tests. They focus on practical writing and reporting, considering information in the context in which it is being read or written and going from there.
Standardized tests ask students to take two words out of context and relate them to each other.
This ignores the fact that language is a highly subjective experience and that its importance is based on how each student internalizes it.
The state should permit teachers to judge students’ performance by administering short-answer tests that allow students to input their own answers, explaining how they arrived at a certain choice and what it means to them.
Tests should be created and administered individually by people familiar with each school system.
This would provide the state with a more realistic interpretation of how well teachers are teaching the material their students need to know.
Knowledge cannot be standardized and neither should our classrooms.
Brittany Binowski of Conyers is recruitment editor for the Red & Black newspaper and a magazines major at the Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.