Standardized testing… What a topic! I can only remember taking a few in my schooling years, but I do remember how frustrating it was to take one. I briefly remember one in Elementary school and I found it to be really difficult because the language was different than what I was used to in my classroom.
Standardized testing goes completely against our “mosaic” multicultural view that Canada is supposed to have. Bill Bigelow explains, “Multiculturalism attempts to uncover ‘the histories and experiences of people who have been left out of the curriculum'” (pg. 170). With testing, aren’t we leaving out a large number of people? The system assumes that all students should learn and approach learning in the exact same way, which is far from reality. Students have different learning styles, experiences, learning needs, etc. If a student was not originally from Canada, they are going to hold different experiences, which will reflect in the way that they learn. Bill Bigelow also writes, “Curriculum standardization is, as Berlak indicates, a way to silence dissident voices” (pg. 170). This is so true because the tests are going to obviously reflect the dominant “common sense” ideals that are evident in our area. This is not beneficial to students that don’t identify with the dominant way of thinking. It’s almost like we are raising our students to become robots.
As a teacher, we are supposed to take into account the interests of our students. How are we supposed to do that when we need to worry about preparing our students for standardized testing? It’s not going to have questions for students to relate to and it’s not going to create a positive experience for all students. The benefit of the teacher making a form of assessment–perhaps a test–is that the teacher knows his/her students and they can implement the language used in lessons, make relatable connections, etc. In a standardized test, the language could be far off from what the students can understand. Treating students as all the same is never beneficial. We need to celebrate the diversity in our students and making them take these tests will not encourage this.
It’s almost like teachers are encouraged to treat their students as a prize or a measure of their ability. Standardized tests do negatively affect students, but teachers are also very pressured to “produce” students to be what they are “supposed to be”. In this way, we are implementing a factory model because students are trained and conditioned to prepare for these scheduled tests. Students are all so diverse, whether that is from their race, gender, experiences, opinions, learning styles, learning needs, etc. Instead, students will become subject to a ranking system from a life of standardized testing. These tests do not adequately measure our students abilities or teacher abilities. Humans are capable of anything as long as they are in the learning environment that encourages to their ways of learning. We’re throwing out our goals of social justice out of the window with standardized testing!
How do you feel about standardized testing? Do you have any negative or positive experiences with them?