State Testing:  What Does it Prove?


As it nears the time of torture, I watch many students become restless.  “I’m just ready to get it over with.”  This is the general feeling of not only the students, but the teachers and faculty members as well. 

Normally, a teacher would feel that they have done EVERYTHING to prepare the students.  However, so many other factors accompany knowledge as a necessity for passing the test. 

Besides, what exactly is the point of testing anyway?  If a student passes his/her class, is that not enough to demonstrate that s/he is equipped with the necessary tools to contribute positively and be successful to our ever evolving society?  Hailing from a state where testing was not mandated, I find the whole state testing protocol so very unnecessary.

Let’s first examine the circumstances surrounding testing.  First of all, testing determines a student’s graduation status.  This means that a student may be academically inclined, but regardless of what the student’s grade point average is, if s/he fails the state test then s/he will not graduate.  How unfair is that? 

Secondly, the test serves as an accountability tool to measure how well a teacher has taught the curriculum.  Again, this is unfair to the teacher for many reasons: a student may have excessive absences causing him/her to miss a lot of instructional materials, a student may not be a good test taker and perform poorly on the test, or the student just may lack motivation. 

Finally, testing may determine a school’s status.  If too many students fail, the school is labeled “Academically Unacceptable.”  The school bears this label like a burden until the scores improve. 

Oftentimes, students are even given the option to matriculate at a different school rather than a school labeled as Unacceptable.  In other words, the common misconception that accompanies the label is that the school is not good enough, so students should not attend the unfavorably labeled school. 

This lowers the morale at the school, teacher buy-in, student motivation, etc.  Students then see themselves as low achieving and believe it pointless to work hard to remove the label.

So, I pose the question once again, what exactly is the point of state testing?  Is it a tool designed to assist students in becoming positive contributors to our ever-evolving society? 

No, it is not.  It is designed to hinder a certain group of students with its biased questions.  Furthermore, just because a student fails the test, it should not detain a student from entering the world until s/he has passed this test.

Cameron is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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