As a soon-to-be teacher here in the Wilkes Teacher Education Program, all types of assessments are a huge topic in most of the courses. There is not one course, one good course, which does not bring assessment into a discussion in education.
First off, what is assessment in relation to a school?
There are various definitions for assessment and the role it plays in teaching and learning. According to the University of Connecticut, “assessment involves the use of empirical data on student learning to refine programs and improve students learning.”
While this may be true that is not all assessment is supposed to be. The definition of assessment, given by the Glossary of Education Reform, refers to the “wide variety of methods or tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, or education needs of students.” This definition gives every aspect of what an assessment should be.
Assessment needs to be an integral part of instruction, because educators must always check their students’ understanding. In today’s society, we are too focused on the results; schools are too focused on test scores and more specifically, standardized tests.
Standardized testing is any test that a student body must take where all the questions are common or the same. It is called standard because they are supposed to be scored in some consistent manner. The point of a standardized test is for comparison, and should be all about growth.
The high stakes tests that are implemented here in the United States are always up for debate; test experts say that these tests are fair, while many educators in the schools and classrooms can debate that they do not, truly, measure the intelligence of a student.
I am not an expert on testing but from what I have observed and discussed with many educators, these tests that have consumed our nation’s education system. They have grown to dictate the teachers, students, administrators, and the curriculum in some public schools.
According to many students that I have discussed the standardized tests with said these tests are bullies. If a student can see that, why can’t our government and leaders for education?
Many teachers have lost their ability to be creative in the classroom, since they are too focused on teaching test material. Also, the student’s test scores are one of the most commonly used indicators of teacher performance. This means that teachers could potentially lose their job if their students do not have good or improving test scores.
There are so many other downfalls to these tests and I feel that it is time to reassess our system. Thank goodness that No Child Left Behind Act is no longer implemented and the Obama administration has declared that the testing push has gone way too far. It is overkill with the amount of testing that is done and I am happy to see that our officials have at least recognized this.
Kate Zernike, writer for the New York Times, has published The Obama administration has declared that students should have less than 5 percent of classroom instruction for taking tests and this is their way to “reduce over-testing.”
While this testing action plan may be nice, it is not enforced by any law but should it? Testing cannot be thrown out the window completely. It is essential to classroom instruction; the emphasis on it is what needs to changed and it should not only be what educators do at the end.