ART BY ANNA MACIAS
By SARAH CHUN
With final exams just around the corner, we as students are all thinking the same thing: these tests are outright stupid.
Despite the several benefits they may demonstrate, standardized testing and cumulative final exams fail to achieve their goal of improving instruction and performance, as teachers fail to conduct lessons with adequate depth. This stems from the subpar statewide curriculum.
As mentors in the youth’s academics, a teacher’s job is to encourage more thought and depth in a student’s education, but most fail to fulfill their expectations. Teachers essentially act as military sergeants and drill down their students to help them retain the information; however, constantly training students like a military will not truly teach them to truly think and learn to solve problems. They should also encourage their students’ creativity and personality expression, which would make the students more attracted to learning.
When students are taught to regurgitate information without digging deeper into a story’s moral, and when education relies solely on manual work, America’s youth never learns how to truly think critically. Modern-day society emphasizes the importance of standardized testing, yet students never properly learn the necessary set of skills to excel on these exams, which essentially decides a student’s future.
However, the inadequacy in teaching methods should not be solely blamed on teachers. Teachers are required by state to follow a certain curriculum and are therefore conformed to a specific routine.
In 2001, President George W. Bush passed a law known as the No Child Left Behind Act, which established learning requirements for students using annual standardized tests to measure their academic performance. This act was executed very poorly, as teachers became more focused more on teaching their students the bare minimum to scrape by to meet the standards so they can keep their jobs. Teachers are essentially forced to teach a bland and surface-level course that is solely designed to help students pass the standardized test, rather than genuinely guiding the class through valuable lessons in critical thinking.
Despite the dissatisfactory nature of standardized testing, the intentions behind them were fair to begin with, as these exams were designed to encourage thought and maximize students’ potential. After all, students should be encouraged to keep up with their current work while remembering everything they have learned in the past, which can be gauged by an exam. However, packing half of a year’s worth of curriculum only adds stress on both the teacher and student.
Although our nation has attempted to make reform movements, they were highly ineffective, and frankly, deteriorated our education system. Recognizing this, since 2010, states have been adopting a new system named Common Core State Standards, familiarly known as Common Core. This modern-day set of standards were designed to teach students to think critically and work collaboratively with one’s peers to be ready for college and adult life. Similar to the No Child Left Behind Act, this system was adopted for the students’ benefit but does not meet its expectations.
Common Core’s end-of-year standardized test uses modern technology to gauge an individual’s knowledge, so that each time a student reports a correct answer, the next question is more difficult, and vice versa. This is an excellent use of today’s technology; however, students are not properly taught to think at Common Core standards. For example, for English, the state asks educators to teach a certain selection of books, which is customary for English classes, but leaves little time for teachers to conduct lessons on the Common Core material. This contradicts standardized tests’ purpose to improve instruction and performance.
Not only does this apply to standardized testing, this applies to final exams. Finals exams cover five months’ worth of material, yet students are expected to review for these exams in a week. This causes students to cram information into their brains for the sake of passing the test, which opposes the test’s purpose to gauge how much information a student retains over a period of time.
With these faults taken into consideration, effective reform movements are deemed necessary to provide our youth with an adequate education.
Rather than assuming a student’s knowledge and academic capabilities on one test, our education system should value other factors as well. One suggestion that would both effectively test a student’s intelligence and take advantage of modern technology is to put students in a simulation where they must analyze the given situation and take appropriate actions to solve the problem at hand. Another solution to the subpar nature of today’s standardized testing is to have state-given periodic tests to keep track of students’ knowledge and growth throughout the year.
In conclusion, we must not blame our teachers for unsatisfactory preparation for standardized tests, and instead place the fault on our nation’s education system for not properly recognizing this issue.
Our America is in the midst of an academic epidemic, taking the lives of students nationwide. It is a deficiency in the proper skillsets to prosper in a growing society. It is a failure to recognize that knowledge overbears a percentage on a piece of paper.
The future of our country is at stake; we the people of the United States have identified the symptoms and the deficiencies surrounding it, and it is time for our nation’s leaders to find the cure.