By Elaine Magliaro
School reformers have claimed for years that our public schools and our public school teachers are failing our children. In Washington, policies put in place to help reform our schools have brought us the disastrous No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top programs—both of which have put an emphasis on standardized testing.
School reformers say that the best way to evaluate students’ academic progress and teacher effectiveness is through high-stakes testing. There is nothing wrong with administering a reasonable amount of standardized tests to children in order to help educators evaluate what their students have learned. Unfortunately, our children today spend an inordinate amount of their school time prepping for and taking high-stakes tests. Unfortunately, teachers usually receive students’ test scores months after administration of the tests—and often after their students have gone on to the next grade level.
Our public schools should be places of real learning, places of discovery, places where our children’s minds can be opened up to the sciences and arts and quality literature. They should not be test prep institutions.
Last Sunday night, John Oliver provided an in-depth look at the negative impact that too much standardized testing has on students, teachers, and schools. He also focused on one educational publisher in particular—Pearson. Pearson produces approximately 40% of the standardized assessment tests and educational materials that are used across this country at many different levels. Oliver said that Pearson was “the educational equivalent of Time Warner Cable: Either you’ve never had an interaction with them and don’t care, or they’ve ruined your fucking life.”
Every year, students around the country are subjected to an insane amount of mandatory, standardized testing. So much so, the average number of tests a student completes by the time they graduate high school is a staggering 113, according to the latest “Last Week Tonight.” As host John Oliver noted on Sunday, all the stressful bubble-filling is taking an inevitable toll—with teachers reporting their students throwing up under the pressure so often, official testing guidelines specifically outline how to deal with kids vomiting on their test booklets.
“Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of students will vomit,” Oliver said. “Standardized tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on ‘8 Mile’ Road.”
I wish the mainstream news media would look at the issue of the “over testing” of our children as thoroughly as a comedy program on HBO!!!!!
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Standardized Testing (HBO) American students face a ridiculous amount of testing. John Oliver explains how standardized tests impact school funding, the achievement gap, how often kids are expected to throw up.
John Oliver Explains Everything That’s Wrong With Standardized Testing (Huffington Post)