Put to the TEST – standardized testing

Put to the TEST – standardized testing – Brief Article

NO MATTER WHOM YOU TALK WITH in the field of education, standardized testing sparks difficult questions, highly charged political arguments, and emotional reactions. We expected controversy when we embarked on this issue. We still do.

To address the subject, I sought out teachers in both the pro- and anti-testing camps, hoping to discover why they felt the way they did, how the tests affected their teaching, and, perhaps most important for our readers, what they did to prepare their students.

I found a few staunch supporters–teachers who believed the tests had made them more accountable to the standards and better at their jobs. Some tempered their support, however, adding that only certain types of tests were worthwhile, they didn’t like how the scores were used, or the tests would be fine were it not for the high stakes attached to them.

But the overwhelming majority had problems with standardized testing. Their stances ranged widely, from acceptance to despondency to outrage; but short of political activism and boycotts–which some strong-minded teachers consider the only effective strategy to deal with what they see as a dire crisis–most teachers felt helpless. Again and again I heard their mantra of ambivalence: “The tests are here to stay. We might as well deal with them.”

Whether the tests are here to stay is up for debate. What’s certain is that they are here today. How you choose to handle them is your own decision. Regardless of your stance, doing what’s best for your students is undoubtedly your top priority.

In our special testing section (starting on page 20), you will find real solutions for seeing your students successfully through the tests. Ways to take care of test prep and meet your curriculum requirements. Strategies for correcting students’ misconceptions about test formats and rules.

Where do you stand on the tests? We welcome your comments!

Jennifer Prescott, Managing Editor jprescott@scholastic.com

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