Students Against Testing was created to be a strong force against the score-obsessed education machine known as standardized testing. At the same time, SAT also exists as an advocate for bringing positive, creative and real-life learning activities into the schools. SAT believes that for the reasons stated below urgent action from the student body itself is the most direct way to counteract the boredom and petty competition that currently plagues the schools.
Here's 10 reasons to oppose standardized tests. If you'd like this in a condensed flyer format, you can download it here.
1. Tests stop learning.
The new standardized curriculum requires more teachers to spend more time in a Jeopardy-like rote environment in which they cover more and more information on a shallower level. The large amount of time dedicated to test-prep in schools leaves little time for class discussion, critical thinking, group projects, or any other creative curriculum approaches. The new wave of testing is replacing real-life thinking with artificial achievement, and killing the creativity in each child.
2. Tests are a big business.
Tests are created, printed, distributed, and scored by private, quickly-profiting corporations such as McGraw Hill, ETS, and The College Board. In a special report, stateline.org revealed that in 2001 over $400 million was spent by state education departments alone on testing. The education system is quickly giving more and more power to the "profits first, students last" testing industry.
3. Tests separate students by their parent's income.
Today's exams are more likely to reveal a parent's paycheck than a student's potential to master concepts and work hard. Studies from the College Board show that people taking the SAT will, on average, score an extra 30 points for every $10,000 in their parents income. What is being slated as the great opportunity for underprivileged students is more likely to widen the opportunity gap even more.
4. Test companies are inaccurate and insecure.
One never knows exactly what happens when the stacks of computerized forms are shipped off to the scoring factories to be graded and returned. Harcourt Educational Measurement delivered late tests to one school in California by leaving the confidential material on the ground outside a school in the rain. In New York City, 3,000 students were mistakenly sent to summer school thanks to a CTB/McGraw Hill scoring error. Flaws and dangers are popping up around the nation in the already overloaded scoring companies.
5. Tests don't solve any of education's problems.
While George Bush proclaims that "no child will be left behind" with his new testing plan, the deeper problems that have always plagued education are left untouched. Issues such as school funding, student participation, and creative curriculum design are taking a back seat to the great standardizing of our classrooms. Bill Goodling, the ex-chair of the House Education Committee explains, "If more testing were the answer to the problems in our schools, testing would have solved them a long time ago."
6. Tests hurt the poor and people of color.
The results of recent standardized tests reveal a distinct bias against poor and minority students. In Massachusetts, 80% of African-Americans and 83% of Latinos failed the 10th grade MCAS statewide, compared to 45% of whites. A Boston College study revealed that 9 of the 10 states with the highest dropout rates used standardized tests in decisions about high school graduation.
7. Tests are a waste of time and money.
The testing craze is swallowing up more and more class time and precious educational resources than ever before. The Texas Education Agency spent 26.5 million dollars on accountability and testing, 38% of the agency's entire budget. In Massachusetts, the 17 hour long MCAS is longer than the Massachusetts bar exam. Americans are taking as many as 600 million standardized tests per year, and countless hours of creative, curious learning experiences are being replaced by test prep as a result.
8. Tests place too much emphasis on one single examination.
In a world of diverse learning styles and a wide range of interests, testing is creating an intellectual monopoly around one piece of paper taken at one time of year - and the stakes are high. For many students, their scores represent whether they pass or dropout, whether they receive scholarships or whether they will be retained. Students in Michigan can earn up to $2,500 scholarships based on a single score. Entire school districts in South Carolina can be deemed educationally bankrupt and subject to state takeover if their test scores fall below a certain level.
9. Tests breed stress and depression.
With so much emphasis being placed on these single tests, students are
crumbling under the unnecessary pressure. A second grader at Martin
Elementary School in South San Francisco got so nervous about taking the
Stanford 9 that he threw up on his exam. When Florida fourth graders were
asked by their Sunday School teacher if they wanted to pray about
something that was scaring them, they joined hands and prayed to pass the
FCAT. Standardized testing has quickly turned learning into a computerized race
to beat out as many other students as possible.
10. Tests turn schools into stock markets.
We are quickly creating schools where students are only numbers, and
schools are only factories.
In California, the Stanford-9 requires children as young as 7 to sit
through 10 straight days of multiple choice testing where teachers can get
up to a $25,000 bonus, and top scoring students can earn a $2,500 college
scholarship, depending on the scores. At an earlier and earlier age,
students are being bribed by financial success and threatened by permanent
failure over single tests as more and more states make the stakes higher
and higher. In the words of Albert Einstein, "Not everything that counts
can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."