Standardizing = Equal Standards? (by Jasmine Bahramian)

JasminePicThe way education and testing standards should be approached is not an easy matter. There is not only plenty of variety across various states and locations, but each individual child is unique in their path towards academic success. However, there does need to be certain standards that schools need to meet in order to provide a good education and prepare children for college and the workplace. It seems apparent that the system that was in place before common core was introduced was incentivizing schools to decrease their quality of education instead of increase it. However, is holding every school and child to one universal testing standard the right way to enhance education? If so, what should those standards be? And who should decide them?

On one hand, it makes sense to hold everyone to one equal standard. It does not seem fair that children may be given poorer education and held to a lower standard of academic achievement solely based on the state they live in. Holding every school to the same standard ensures that every school has set guidelines on the material that needs to be covered in each grade and creates a more level playing field across states. However, will such a standard truly promote equality? Students have a variety of learning styles, strengths and backgrounds; universal testing standards could narrow the scope of academic “achievement” to predetermined national standards as opposed to considering each individual child’s strengths and weaknesses. The test would almost certainly promote mastery in certain skills over others, as well as solely rely on standardized testing to measure mastery in these skills. Can a standard be created that holds schools all around the country accountable for providing a high quality education while recognizing and accounting for the diversity that exists among students?

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7 thoughts on “Standardizing = Equal Standards? (by Jasmine Bahramian)

  1. Hi Jasmine,

    A person’s learning ability and test taking ability have always been problems that I have seen with one standardized test for all. A kinesthetic learner for example, does really well when they can see and touch the thing they are trying to understand. By then putting them in front of a test on paper or computer screen, I feel like it would really limit the ability of the educator to get a gauge on the students capabilities. However, common core states its purpose that it is trying to make sure that all students are prepared to enter college when they graduate, and in all fairness, that kind of test taking is what is expected at all levels of education. So I can really understand both sides of the coin. And maybe this is a problem with our education system as a whole in that it is limited to really only a few types of learning styles. That then begs the question, do we just need one big overhaul of the education field? Or perhaps do we need to look at a different means of testing for all learning types? There are some teachers who are really attuned to the fact that there even are different learning types, and some that will continue lecturing for the rest of their teaching careers. Where then does the responsibility lie for making sure that everyone is caught up?

    • Hi Marina,
      I agree that standardized testing is the best way to prepare students for the type of testing that is most often expected of them after high schools. Standardized tests are usually used in college, and are often required for many different career paths, such as law school and medical school. However, like you mentioned, it is not very accommodating to students who may not be great test takers even though they understand the material. For instance, I have always been really good at standardized tests. I have had friends however who have had very bad test anxiety and did not perform to the best of their abilities on tests. I have noticed that some teachers do emphasize different ways of learning and have different types of exams in order to assess performance instead of relying on the basic standardized tests. Do you think that having a federal standardized testing standard will cause some teachers to stray away from these accommodations?

  2. When it comes to the No Child Left Behind act I am completely for it. I think it is great that the schools. I agree with most of “the federal government required states to test, disaggregate and report data on student performance, but allowed states to continue deciding on their own which standards and tests to use.” what I don’t agree with was that school denied whether or not to use easier tests on their students just to make their schools test scores look better. This in no was shape or form is helping our students, if anything it is setting us all up to fail.

    I’m not saying the students should all have to take extremely hard tests, but I do believe in setting our standards high, as it says in the text. The tests our school in Central Oregon I don’t believe were too difficult but I do remember a lot of the students complaining when the time came to take those tests. If I remember correctly they were called hawks tests. I could be wrong, i don’t remember.

    I also loved the quote :”to raise their standards so students graduate ready for college or career and can succeed in a dynamic global economy.” I feel like this goes along with what I was saying earlier. The students in high school I feel need to be given those tests that will show them and prepare them for college and what they will be going through in college, what kind of tests will be given to them, to be ready to face the real world. The tests my school administered I feel could have been more challenging (except the science one that was given that one I remember I hated). I don’t remember being thought anything I would be going through in college I just remembered our teachers saying “this won’t fly in college, your college professors will be so much more strict.” Which didn’t necessarily end up being true.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts, please let me know what you think.

    Here is the article I read:
    https://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/articles/2014/02/27/the-history-of-common-core-state-standards

    • Giselle,

      I really get your point about the level of difficulty the tests should be set at. Also, like you said, I also had teachers tell me that I would need to be able to do certain things in college that did not end up being true. I do think that there are certain skills that you need for college and beyond that schools should be made responsible for teaching. For example, writing is something that most students need to do in college and something I know some schools do not put enough emphasis on. At the same time, not all students need to master every subject depending on the major and career path they choose to pursue. For example, a student may be weak in math, but may not have to take another math class college. Should the tests only test basic math skills? Would that be challenging enough in order to achieve the goal of pushing schools to provide more quality education if the tests only cover the most basic skills?

  3. Jasmine,

    I do agree that having some sort of standards set in place for public schools is a good thing. Additionally, I do not think that there is one simple solution that will satisfy everyone’s agendas. With that said I think what many people are failing to acknowledge is the students needs. Why is it that we are trying to get all students to the same end destination? Why don’t we facilitate a learning environment that supports alternative styles of learning that are unique to individual success? To answer your question, Is holding every school and child to one universal testing standard the right way to enhance education? In my opinion, definitely not! Holding every school to that same standards is only further causing disparities among schools and the quality of education they are able to provide to their students. The idea behind having a common core fails to understand that not all schools and students are on common grounds. I think this style of assessment is designed for middle class students, who have a home life that is similarly structures to their school life, with parents who hold them accountable, who are their to help with their homework, provide food to nourish their mind, etc. Unfortunately, that experience is not universal for all children and children deserve more than being measured to a set of universal standards.

  4. Hi Jasmine,

    There is definitely a controversy when it comes to thinking about standardize testing and its fairness. I believe that if enough planning is put into this, there could be a test that was fair and equal to each child, while still promoting education and preparing children for higher education. Maybe I’m a bit of an optimist, but if we can send a ship and land a man in space, we can figure out a way to test children’s knowledge and skills in a range that encompasses every child no matter what school environment they have been raised in. It will take a lot of hit and miss trials and research, as well as many minds working together but I do think it is a possibility.

    Jessica

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