Is the rate of growth being measured adequately in standardized testing?
To say that the rate of growth among students is not measured in the standardized system would be a disappointment to the efforts made by the pioneers of the system. Conversely, to say that it has adequately achieved the gauging of the same is understandable. Questions abound who deserves to be ranked first between the student who attained a high score and that who achieved an average score and who began at the bottom traversing upwards.
Under the No Child Left-Behind Policy, schools have received credit for the number of students who have achieved the set proficiency threshold of the state not paying attention to whether or not; the student progressed to have the proficiency. There have been recent debates among the education stakeholders that some students go a notch higher to reach the targeted threshold of proficiency as set by the state. This has however held very little impact as the stakeholders still hold this view with the least regard. Moreover, this stalemate has prompted a few policy makers to come up with ways of measuring growth among students via through models (Kubiszyn, Tom, & Borich 17).
In a rather simple term, a growth model is a mechanism that measures the amount of academic progress among students between any two points at any given time. In this regard, the two notable terms devised to address the growth are growth models and value added.
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They are often preferred for the sake of accountability. One would then wonder what these models or processes are and what they do or if they measure what they claim to do.
The growth models can at times be very sophisticated tools, helping in some ways including the gauging of how much a student learns and how he or she does it (Deno 15). Like many tools out there, these models are only effectively in the hands of their inventors. Notably, most people are accustomed to getting results or information about the academic performance of their children in form of scores. Whether the report is delivered in form of letter grades of numbers, it denotes the same thing. It is however worth noting that the scores do not particularly show how the student in question pursued the progress before reaching the score. It does not show the actual points of weaknesses nor growth. It only shows a huge step or leap towards the achievement of the said growth. Furthermore, the test scores or marks do not show if the student at some point lost ground in the process (Deno 15).
This is a big challenge to the policy makers as the system has always relied on such things as results as their major focus and not on any other factor. Besides, these measures have put so much pressure on the students who are also expected to tore the line and meet these insanely tough expectations. The set standards are the tracks on which schools are expected to operate and held accountably. It is also based on these systems that students are expected to have their tests on materials that are set and described by the state and which schools must enforce on their students whether or not the they meet the rules above (Armstrong, Thomas 33).
The NCLB was taken to a higher level when it adopted the policy of Adequate Yearly Progress, a model that is based on the status achievement model in schools. This meant that the schools could adequately be addressed and evaluated on the status of its achievement. It is however argued that the criterion for status evaluation is in itself an unfair method and should thus be deemed ineffective, more so for the high-poverty rural and urban schools known to receive large populations of students who are in most cases in schools behind their peers.
On the same note, schools are tagged “in need of improvement” should they fail to meet the AYP threshold. This holds as long as they failed the target even if they attained the most remarkable growth with their students than their most affluent counterparts.
Is there lack of value being placed on standardized testing?
There are two chief arguments that are put forward to test and guarantee the students’ attainment of minimum academic competency. The very first one is perceived to be very radical but unnecessary. The second one is rather less radical and perceived to be more familiar in that the standardized testing technique is a more efficient and effective benchmark of costs and basic skills that are by far too high.
Whether the standardized tests bear values to them or not is a matter that has elicited some debates with each side holding almost equal but opposite arguments. It is said that man should not fear that which can offer them the best possible chance to transfer information in ways that they perceive most effective. The very instance of such ways is the standardized testing. It is believed that such testing techniques offer the best platform for teachers to present clearly the diagnostic report, if any, for the students under their tutoring (Armstrong, Thomas 33).
Despite the many positive sides of standardized testing, there are still half-baked trends that come as a result of this technique. There are a million reasons why anybody would disregard this standardized testing methods. To start with, since students know how test scores affect their prospects so they go at extra length to pass the tests. These can include colluding or cheating in the exam room as well as taking drugs that are supposedly boosting one’s performance (Deno 8).
The teachers from their end, knowing that the results will have a direct bearing on their salaries and by extension, on their job securities, do everything under the sun including cheating to have their projections attained. It is also notable that the devised standardized tests do not provide the necessary feedback regarding the means to performing better. It is also baffling to note that the results do not reach the students and their teachers until after a considerable amount of time that could last months (Bouin, Mickael 21).
The standardized tests are not necessary because they seldom show the content of knowledge one possesses. Any teacher if asked for instance, what a given student scored, they will provide an answer that is either in form of letter grades or through compilation of evaluations that breakdown the progress of their skill attainment. It is worth noting that many a times; grades do not bear a lot of meaning since they have different standards bearing different values (Bayley 19).
Another disadvantage of this technique is that it does not appreciate creativity and innovativeness among students. Any creative answers from students cannot meet the desired recognition since the results are subjected under special machines that grade the tests and not humans as commonly anticipated. Standardized tests do not also value diversity. Quite a large number of people take part in standardized tests. These people come from different cultural backgrounds and have different proficiency levels in language, different thinking and learning styles and with different circumstances and experiences. Furthermore, it has been documented that standardized tests tend to favor people or students who come from socially and economically advantaged backgrounds. This is possible in the sense that those who have money can easily get the tests customized or even have the best tutors available that will then help the candidates in doing and or eventually in passing the tests. There is so much emphasis placed on standardized methods and these result in tutors spending the better part of their time adjusting their schemes and teaching in accordance to the tests (Linn 16).
The tests also occur in such environments that would be described as being artificial. This is based on the assumption that students are timed, asked not to ask questions, forbidden to ask references from fellow students and not to move up and about.
Are there cultural disadvantages in Standardized testing in schools?
Standardized testing in the US ramped up in the year 2012 as a result of the adoption of the No Child Left-Behind Policy. The Policy was brought forward to help hold together public schools so as to keep the banner of high standards of education flying.
The standardized testing techniques have been proven not to be perfect. It is documented that there is no measurement that is ever good enough to satisfy the role of primary foundation in the education curriculum. It has also been documented by the National Research Council that emphasis on testing techniques yielded significant progress but caused harm in equal measure.
Among the many negative consequences that come with standardized testing is the culture of undermining the engagement between the students and the school climate. The other issue of concern is the narrowing down of the curriculum, getting students out of school set up, driving the teaching staff out of their profession, drilling or even teachers delivering content to the test and so on (Hambleton, Ronald, &Liane 24).
There is a general culture of tracking the performance of students in a standardized system of testing. This includes slowing down of the students’ learning progress without seeing the promotion of their skills, knowledge and habits necessary for the success of their pursuit and or skilled work. Too often, it has been assumed that the low scoring students require relatively lower level remediation as opposed to enrichment, support and even challenge. In other respects, it is a common occurrence to hold and retain a student’s grade. This is coupled with flunking the student back and this works to the negative development of the student. In fact, it is both emotionally and academically harmful to the student, something that discourages any sustained improvement in the academic sector. Consequently, the factors above lead to a lowered self-esteem among the students, school dropouts among other factors (Brescia, Fortune 12).
As a result of the standardized measures and testing techniques, it is the students from minority and low-income groups or backgrounds that often suffer in the long run. It is also likely that students with disabilities will be denied diplomas; their grades retained and are also likely to be put on remedial programs unnecessarily. It is also most likely that the named parties are subjected to dumbed-down curriculum that draws its practice from rote drilling and test practice. If such a system is adopted, it is no doubt that the subjects under the same system will see their progress fall further behind their fellow peers. As a result, school dropout is imminent as majority end up in school to prison channel (Sacks 7).
It is no doubt that the standardized system of exam tests has become the single most significant indicator of performance among students in schools. Consequently, both administrators and teachers feel the heat of ensuring that the test scores rise in a consistent manner. It is also likely that schools will try and adjust their system to suit these systems through the manipulation of the existing systems. The teachers will also resort to such methods as drilling so as to comply with the new trend and test demands while at the same time tying themselves to the curriculum (Apple 11).
The current NCLB calls for the devised growth models to center their use for the high stakes accountability of schools and also ensure that there are ways to measure the effectiveness of teachers and their formulated programs. In view of this, most scholars have echoed behind the statistical methods as the surest ways of presenting a more satisfactory and clear way of presenting a complete performance of schools (Kubiszyn, Tom, & Borich 17).
In conclusion, the standardized testing techniques offer both losers and winners. The losers in this context are those who are labeled as the low achievers, the disabled children or simply the reluctant ones. The winners are those that are entrapped I the tread mills of excellence and myriad achievements.
Apple, Michael W. Between neoliberalism and neoconservatism: Education and conservatism in a global context. na, 2000.
Brescia, William, and Jim C. Fortune. “Standardized Testing of American Indian Students. ERIC Digest.” (2012).
Linn, Robert L. “Assessments and accountability.” Educational researcher 29.2 (2000): 4-16.
Bouin, Mickael, et al. “Rectal distention testing in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of pain sensory thresholds.” Gastroenterology 122.7 (2002): 1771-1777.
Armstrong, Thomas. “15 Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Worthless |”. Institute4learning.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Deno, Stanley L. “Developments in curriculum-based measurement.” The Journal of Special Education 37.3 (2003): 184-192.
Deno, Stanley L. “Curriculum-based measurement: The emerging alternative.” Exceptional children 52.3 (2011): 219-232.
Bayley, Nancy. “On the growth of intelligence.” American Psychologist 10.12 (2014): 805.
Hambleton, Ronald K., and Liane Patsula. “Adapting tests for use in multiple languages and cultures.” Social indicators research 45.1-3 (1998): 153-171.
Sacks, Peter. Standardized minds: The high price of America’s testing culture and what we can do to change it. Da Capo Press, 2000.
Kubiszyn, Tom, and Gary Borich. Educational testing and measurement. Harper Collins Publishers, 2011.
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