Should standardized testing be universal for all states

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indigoV51's picture
Joined: 09/19/03
Posts: 101
Should standardized testing be universal for all states

I was really surprised to discover that private schools do not have to issue the same standardized test that the public schools do. Also home schooled kids ( Wa. state) only have to have one type of standardized test per year. Parent can choose from a list. I know that most states vary quite drastically what they require in public, private, and home schooling education.

Should all states have the same unit of measurement? Should private schools and home schooled kids have to abide by this as well? Would this help or hinder our failing educational system? Should all kids have to pass a test to graduate high school?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6559

There are so many issues in this that I am not sure they could all be addressed in the same thread. I also do not want my personal educational decisions attacked. Thinking about it, I think it all boils down to State rights. Does each State have the right to make their own laws in regards to Education? Or does the federal Government trump?

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

I wish there was no standardized testing, and it was done Finnish style.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

I believe public and private school have to take the standardised tests here in years 3,5, 7 and 9, however I am unsure if homeschoolers do them. The exiting highschool test for university entrance varies state to state. There have been private schools who ask students to not take the QCS (thats what it is in my state to determine scores for uni entrance) to up their school average and provide higher results to improve the schools image of academics.

Personally I am not huge on standarised tests, but they happen here and because the ones used for data collection purposes are the same throughout Australia I guess everyone has the same unit of measurement, i personally don't think it addresses the defects in our education system though.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

I am not a fan of standardized tests. I don't think they are accurate measures of a student's knowledge and I think they force teachers to teach to the test instead of teaching subjects and encouraging learning. The fewer the better, in my opinion. They're all about administration and funding and not about teaching, so I give private schools props for not doing them at all.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1533

It varies from state to state. Private schools have them here, but they are different then what you would see in public.

indigoV51's picture
Joined: 09/19/03
Posts: 101

I also am not a huge fan of standardized testing but what is the alternative? How do we really tell what a kids has learned. I also wonder about military kids. With moving so much their education is lacking due to having different testing and standards. We have a huge population of home schoolers that do unschooling for their kids. They study only what interests them. So to me that is really one sided. I look at young kids entering college and am scared at their basic lack of knowledge.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

For information about homeschooling testing requirements HSLDA.org has them all.
I am not a fan of it but I do not mind it. I would rather it be optional.
Aren't teachers a better judge of the child's knowledge. Or are we that concerned with test taking skills.. because often that is what the test...tests.. not the actual knowledge in the child's head.
I agree it comes again down to state vs fed rights.. and control.. It was what the civil war was fought over... Not sure we ever came to a universal agreement about it.

Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 848

I think standardized testing has its time and place. It isn't always the evil beast it is sometimes made out to be. In my district students take the Discovery Assessment 3-4 times a year (depending on grade level). It really helps teachers collect and analyze data to pinpoint instructional needs based on students' strengths and weaknesses. I find it to be a very fair and helpful test and my kids actually get excited about taking it. They set goals for themselves, graph their progress, and complete assignments based on their needs and not just a set curriculum map. The results are actually far easier for parents to understand than the current SBAR report card.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

"Rivergallery" wrote:

Aren't teachers a better judge of the child's knowledge. Or are we that concerned with test taking skills.. because often that is what the test...tests.. not the actual knowledge in the child's head.

I agree with you about testing and teachers. Some kids are great test takers but don't know the material, some know the material and are terrible at taking tests. I also think the test questions can be very ambiguous sometimes and a kid can know the answer and still get it wrong. I know a lot of teachers and they hate testing time because all they can do is teach to the test or risk losing funding for their schools. It is not a great way to measure knowledge or aptitude.

I'm not familiar with the Discovery Assessment but it sounds like a different from the standardized tests I'm familiar with, especially if it involves doing assignments vs. sitting in a quite room and answering questions for a few hours.

I thought the SATs were ridiculous. I'm from Canada so we don't have them but I took them to go to school in NY. All I did was study the tests myself until I got a sense of how they worked and then I did great. Was not really a reflection of anything else!

Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 848

Discovery Testing is typically done on a computer (isn't everything these days). I teach K-2 and they are only given the Math and Reading portions of the test. I believe the higher grades take Science as well. Each test has approximately 30-40 questions so it isn't very time consuming. It is also a great predictor of FCAT performance (the state standardized test for grades 3+ that may determine promotion/retention and school grade). I've never administered the FCAT (nor taken it) so I can't really give input about that particular test.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6559

I have to admit to the pleasant tone of this topic. I went to sleep thinking there would be a much different response.

The two States that I have the most experience with (and know lots of homeschoolers in each) are TN and NY. TN requires standardised tests in 3rd, 5th, and 7th grade. In NY you need to meet with a certified teacher and show them samples of the child's work and have the teacher certify that the child is learning and standardised testing each year.

I am not completely against Standardized testing. I know many, many homeschoolers. In my rough guess, I would say for every 10 homeschoolers I know, 9 of them do a great job. They do school every school day and use curriculum. 1 out of the 10, really slacks and the child is years behind. While not ideal, the testing is a way to find that 10th child. (I also am not a fan of unschooling, but that is another debate)

I strongly do not think that everyone should be required to use the same curriculum. Poor curriculum choices in public schools is one reason many people homeschool.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

I am not a fan of standardized testing when it is used to determine teacher's work or a student's ability...especially to graduate. We have MCAS here and I HATE them. It absolutely makes everyone cater to a set of tests and I find that gross.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

This is where they are going with common core. It will be computer-based that adjusts for the student. Kind of like placement tests in college. If the math question is 3*3 and the student answers 6, the next question will be easier and keep adjusting to get an accurate snapshot. The tests are supposed to include writing also.

I hate standardized tests! And to base teacher performance on students' scores? Well, it just rubs me the wrong way.

There are many examples were credit/blame is misplaced. I guess an example would be the band teacher. A band class that has access to instruments at home and supportive parents can practice, practice, practice. Kids putting in 20 hours of practice outside of school are going to sound so much better than those who don't have access to instruments and are busy fixing dinner for their younger siblings. So when the first group makes state and represents the entire county, is it the teacher's doing? Should he/she get credit for these awesome musicians? Likewise, should the teacher of the second group be blamed because she does the best she/he can but just doesn't have enough hours in the day or instruments to loan to get those students to go further. Our band is awesome and the teacher works her butt off, but it's not all on her shoulders the way those in the pay-tied-to-test-scores camp want it to be.

Last year I had a student flat-line. She was in honors and AVID and got as few as she could right. In my subject I think it was 2, science 6. It was clearly intentional.

Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 848

I agree that student performance should not determine teacher pay. There are so many factors that combined will determine a student's performance and achievement. Many of these factors are beyond the control of the teacher (genetics, diet, living conditions, health care, family dynamics, etc.).

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

Ethanwinfield- I have had so many great experiences with common core that I hope you aren't right about where it is heading! I feel like finally attention is being paid to nonfiction, and I am happy as nonfiction picture books are my passion.

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