For many school age children in America as well as many other countries, standardized testing has become the norm. According to Hailey Edwards, children will take approximately 242 standardized exams in their school career from kindergarten until twelfth grade. After a conversation with a co-teacher yesterday, I also learned that now children also have to pass standardized tests in 4K. Standardized tests have been used to measure achievement for students as well as an evaluation tool to see how well teachers are doing. Today many people are questioning the importance of standardized testing, and challenging the government to make changes.
I am one of those people who agree that we need to change the way that schools are teaching our children. After having multiple conversations with friends who are teachers, they feel that they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Teachers are now employing techniques to teach their children to take the standardized tests, without tapping into children creativity or using performance-based projects to show what children are learning.
When I think about assessing the whole child, I feel that we need to remember that children are complex and that not two children are the same or have the same experiences. With that being said, how can standardize tests fit all children, and take into account language, culture, or the society in which the child lives….they can’t. And while I feel that children should be assessed to see what they know and what they are learning, I believe that we need to start allowing children to learn in multiple ways, and allow them the opportunities to learn how to problem solve, and apply what they are learning to real life situations. I think about my own education growing up, I feel that we had fewer tests, we had more project based type classes, and we all turned out okay.
China is another country that also uses standardized testing. Unfortunately, as in the United States the stress for children to excel in these tests is having a negative outcome for their children. Many Chinese children lack sleep, and also lack in physical activity. Obesity is on the rise in China, and one reason may be contributed to the fact that children have less time to enjoy leisure activities. Today, China is working hard to make many changes in their educational system. In 2011, policies were introduced to allow for a more flexibility. The curriculum is also set to focus on the whole child. Not only is there an academic focus, but also a focus on morals, the arts, and physical education. Some things have gotten better, but it is still a work in progress.
As professionals with knowledge on brain development as well as a deep understanding of how children learn, we can help educate parents as well as policy makers to help change the standardized testing that is actually holding our children back. I hope that like China we as a country can start to make more changes within our own educational system. On a positive note, changes have already started. The state of Virginia has already passed laws that have eliminated some of the mandatory tests, and are allowing teachers to use “alternative assessments”.
Edwards, H.S (2015) Leaving Tests Behind. Time, 185(5), 28-31
Zhao, Y. (2007) China and the Whole Child. Educational Leadership, 64(8), 70-73