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Testing in American Schools - Case Study Example

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In the paper “Testing in American Schools” the author discusses the case when every student will one day walk into the testing room on a bad hair day, palms sweating and stomach in a knotted contortion to take an exam that may determine whether they spend the next 4 years at Marquette or McDonald's…
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Testing in American Schools
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Supporters of testing as the primary measurement of a student's progress state that testing is the most efficient way to measure the student's strengths and weaknesses. Rod Paige, former Secretary of Education, reported that mandatory testing under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has resulted in improved student performance and a narrowing of the gap between minorities and whites (2). Mandated testing has held schools responsible for their performance and has resulted in greater accountability within the system (Paige, 1). By pointing out the weaknesses through testing, America can improve, "...accountability and teacher quality, thereby improving the quality, inclusivity, fairness, and justice of American education" (Paige 2).
Opponents of the NCLB act state that testing is an unreliable and one-dimensional picture of a student's total educational accomplishments. Critics argue that some people, especially with disabilities and language challenges, do not take tests well and are unfairly victimized by the process. Professor Richard Elmore of the Harvard Graduate School of Education goes farther and states that high impact testing has been discredited by the American Psychological Association because there is too much margin for error. Elmore recommends the inclusion of portfolios, projects, and teacher evaluations to measure student progress.
Fortunately, America can have it both ways. The country has expressed its will to improve the educational system as evidenced by the 41% increase in funding in recent years (Paige, 2). We should not let the funding be contingent on outdated modes of student assessment. Traditional testing will always be a component of the measurement of a student's skills and is an ideal tool to guide improvement. However, tests should not be the determining factor in the decision of whether a child moves to the next grade, graduates, or is able to enter college. We should strive for a more well-rounded student that can write, express ideas, and solve problems through critical thinking. Testing can guide the teacher, but it's the teacher's responsibility to teach the child the multiple skills that may not be revealed in multiple-choice, but will be required in tomorrow's world of highly competitive careers.
To sum it up, both sides of the argument surrounding testing have some validity. Unfortunately, most polarized participants are also the most vocal. Americans need to enter the debate to assure that no child is left behind because they failed graduation or an SAT test. While tests are helpful, they need to be supplemented with a student's activities, their sense of social responsibility, and their ability to grasp new ideas. Testing is no longer enough to assure that the students are developing into the best and brightest they can be.
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