A Case Against Standardized Testing

Standardized testing is a seemingly necessary part of our public school education system, but that is not really the case. Standardized testing is not only ineffective as a tool to measure students and schools, but is also costly to administer.
Growing up here in the United States, I’ve observed the things that Russell Contreras, a writer for the Albuquerque Journal, found when he interviewed students at a high school. They don’t take standardized testing seriously. I myself used to race my friends to see who could finish the test first, but since we were so competitive we also went for who could also answer the most correct in the fastest time. That was not the case for most other students I knew. Just like in the interview, “christmas tree and heart designs were created using the bubble patterns on the test answer forms” (Contreras). This was the norm at my school. Why would any student care about a test that had no effect on their school career? Even the smartest kids blew off the tests, because after all, it only changed the schools ranking. Because of the frequency with which these kinds of things happen, test scores become skewed, and as a result the data collected by these tests become inaccurate.
Standardized tests are also easy to manipulate. In Many Children Left Behind, Linda Darling-Hammond shows how the average scores went up at a middle school from one school year to the next. It wasn’t the scores themselves that improved, it was the average. “The lowest-scoring student, Raul, disappeared.” It seems this is happening quite often; increasing the schools scores is difficult, so they are just holding back students. “Recent data from Massachusetts . . .   show more grade retention and higher dropout rates, including a 300 percent increase in middle school dropouts between 1997-1998 and 1999-2000” (Meier 19-20).   It can’t be coincidence that these increases began after standardized testing was implemented. As the above quote mentions they are not only...