The number one problem about standardized tests isn’t that there are too many of them, or that teachers have to “teach to the test”, nor is it that tests are expensive for the state to implement therefore taking money away from other forms of learning.
The number one problem is that they don’t matter to the student. At all.
In this post by the Chanman at Buckhorn Road (check the blogroll), we are all reminded that accountability is so paramount to the education of our children that those same children have little or no consequences for not doing well on the standardized tests. Colleges could care less about the test scores, so often higher end students will miss STAR testing after doing Advanced Placement testing. Many students simply get their parents to sign out of the testing, convincing Mommy and Daddy that the evil school is making them sit for multiple hours and fill in bubbles on a scantron that is probably made by child laborers in Bangladesh. Even those students that fail the Exit Exam over and over again will gain a certificate that essentially says that they passed high school, and many junior colleges are still allowing students to enroll with a Certificate of Completion (did not pass Exit Exam, but did everything else). Even Special Education students with IEP’s and 504’s are no longer held accountable to the Exit Exam.
But guess what happens when these students don’t take the exam. That’s right. The school get’s nailed. In fact, a few years ago Ukiah High School actually passed all the twenty-plus API/AYP requirements save one; student participation rate on the test. It placed us in further program improvement; alienating teachers, cutting classes, destroying curriculum. But it did nothing to those students who simply signed out of, or outright skipped, the tests. In fact the school has been reduced to driving to student’s houses, begging them with ice cream and cash lotteries, and basically acting in a pathetic manner to get them to take a few tests that in the end mean absolutely nothing to their academic future.
As stated Buckhorn’s article, Del Norte High in Crescent City, California is attaching grade bumps to proficient or advanced ratings on the test. While I could see this as a paperwork nightmare, I think it is a step in right direction to actually make these all-important test mean something to students. Failure to do so simply means that we are all spinning our wheels and going nowhere.