How Standardized Testing Hurts Teachers

    Posted by Tiara Swinson on April 30, 2019

    3d-failed-text_GJKjLKtO_LA recent Forbes article brought an issue to the surface that most teachers already know: standardized testing is pretty useless for teachers. While the intentions for standardized tests such as the PARCC are good, the reality is that standardized testing actually hurts teachers and students more than it helps them. The Forbes article highlights three main reasons standardized testing is useless.


    Standardized tests could potentially help teachers check for understanding, so they can plan their lessons to help students with their specific needs, but the major problem with this is that standardized tests are taken at the end of the school year, which makes them more of a summative, rather than formative, assessment for students. In some cases, teachers can look at data from the previous year, but this isn’t always available, and is only telling the teacher what skills the student did or didn’t know from the previous year, and not how they are doing with the skills of the current year. Teachers also don’t know in what way or how a specific skill was taught the previous year, so it’s hard for them to determine the reason a student may have low scores for a specific skill.


    Another major problem that prevents teachers from using standardized tests to help their students is that there is so much secrecy surrounding the tests. Teachers are not allowed to help students in any way during the test, and in most cases, they aren’t even allowed to know what the test questions are. Teachers also aren’t allowed to talk to students about the test questions or how they came up with their answers. All teachers and students ever get to look at is an overall number, so they can’t use the questions as teaching tools to learn and get better. Even when test reports provide teachers with overall performance in different areas, the areas are often so vague that it’s impossible for teachers to actually tell where they need to alter their instruction.

    Questionable Content

    Nobody is perfect, and even the best teacher will tell you that they have created test questions that were unclear or unintentionally misleading. Often, when this happens in the classroom, teachers make it right by throwing out the question altogether or allowing students to explain the flaws in the question to make up the points. Good teachers use this as a teachable moment to help students see where the mistake was and how the question could have been better. When there is questionable content on standardized tests, nobody knows because students are forbidden to talk about the test and teachers are forbidden to look at the test. An entire class of students could perform poorly in a particular area, and it could all be due to a subjective question, rather than an actual lack of knowledge.


    Until changes are made in the way standardized tests are administered, they will continue to serve little practical use in the classroom. Thankfully, most teachers continue to do an excellent job educating children in spite of the mandated focus on standardized testing.


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    Topics: PARCC, Standardized Testing, Student Achievement

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