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Standardized Tests

Ohhhhh how I loathe standardized, multiple-choice tests.  A pox on the house of whomever dreamed up the concept.  It is my considered opinion that standardized tests are a horrible metric for grounding an assessment of future performance for anyone because they have very little correlation to one’s ability to deal with and adapt to the very real exigencies of the world.  I also agree with the position that standardized testing tends to stifle creative thinking and promotes common, canonical thinking.  The result is that synapses are shaped and honed down well-traveled paths, rather than allowing for and promoting thinking ‘on the margins.’ Furthermore, the system of standardized testing (gradeschool, pre-SAT, SAT, GRE) sets up a model whereby both teachers and students tend to focus on correcting weaknesses rather than playing to individual strengths.  That stifles geniuses, causes self-esteem issues for both the brightest and weakest students, and puts everyone (who buys into the system) in jeopardy of never really being happy with themselves.

Frankly, it pains me to see that our society is embracing them more and more, rather than moving away from them.  As a country, I’d like to see us playing to our strengths.  Come on folks: let’s promote individuality, creativity, critical thinking, adaptability, and flexibility!

Diane Sawyer via Huffington Post: Education in China v. America

Clearly, standardized testing is being used as a bludgeon over the heads of the teacher’s unions.  Supporters of the the testing culture say standardized scores can be used to weed out poor-performing teachers and incentivize teachers (and schools) to be more engaged with at-risk youth.  Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t appear to be working all that well.  Although all sectors of society are getting slightly better at taking these tests, the reality of the world isn’t changing much.  Socio-economic factors still prevail, so it is easy to predict who will do relatively poorer on standardized testing, and who will do less well after their school years.  In short, the testing merely confirms our already-existing understanding of the inequities of the world.  And, in the process of all of this testing madness, we’re losing something really important to America: our bias toward creativity and individuality.

 


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