Please read this article about students standing up for themselves against the scourge of standardized testing in San Antonio, TX. You may either register free to view the article from mysanantonio.com or use Bug Me Not’s login “firstname.lastname@example.org,” password “orwell.”
Mia Kang is a freshman at McArthur High School, presumably in San Antonio. She makes good grades. But she thinks one test, taken on one day, does not “measure what kids really need to know, [it] measure[s] what’s easy to measure.” She added, “We should be learning concepts and skills, not just memorizing. It’s sad for kids and it’s sad for teachers too.”
A local public school system, Gwinnett County Public Schools, requires students to take Gateway Tests in grades 4 and 7 in addition to state-mandated writing tests in grade 5, 8, and 11, and graduation tests in grade 11. Supposedly, this prevents students who have not learned certain concepts from being passed along. The only problem is that a 7th grader can fail every single subject and make a passing grade on the Gateway — and that student will pass 7th grade. In addition, the passing score hovers around 30. Where else in life is a passing score so low? I think it is ridiculous. It places undue pressure on the students to perform well on a test that is virtually meaningless and ignores the fact that the single biggest factor in a student’s success is not whether they can pass a test, but whether they can apply themselves to do the work necessary to make passing grades. It is a slap in the face to any teacher who works hard to teach a student to think, to learn concepts, only to be measured by whether or not that student can pass a test.
That great innovator of education, George W. Bush, has brought this legacy of extensive standardized testing from Texas to the nation. This is what No Child Left Behind looks like. Teachers will teach to the test, because their jobs depend on it, and students will learn what they need to know for the test and get ulcers from test anxiety.
That is, unless more students like Mia realize that some battles really might be worth fighting for.