ENGL 101 Section 6

Forum for students in ENGL 101 Section 6, Spring 2012, Washington State University

    Audry White Assignment 4


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    Post  audry.white on Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:50 pm

    Twenty years ago, some states implemented exams that students are required to pass in order to earn diplomas or move to the next grade. Then in 2002, the No Child Left Behind law added another layer of tests. According to federal regulations, if a school does not produce the required test scores, they could eventually have their entire staffs replaces or be taken over by the state.If you were to ask ten people (teachers, students, parents, and/or professors) about their opinion on standardized testing, it is likely that you would have at least eight of those ten people against the testing. This is a common response because the cons of the current standardized testing sufficiently outweigh the pros of the testing. So, why is this so? Why do so many people turn their head at the idea of standardized people? Why are high-stakes tests an unsuccessful attempt to shaping a students future? And, are there good outcomes and goals from the testing?
    After asking my peers “Do you think you would of learned more efficiently during high-school and middle school if standardized testing was not stressed upon you?”, every single response was a “yes” and I agree with them. And then I asked “why?”. I got multiple “Those tests creates additional stress, as if us students were not already stressed enough with school and the real world”. Everyone knows the story “The three little Pigs”. Picture the straw house as the student (already in an unstable situation, but still standing) and then imagine the wolf that blew the house down as the standardized test (pushing that students to the point of being overly stressed. Nothing can be done to the best of ones ability if they are stressed, hence, when a student is stressed, they are not going to learn to the best of their ability. Stress creates negative thoughts, negative thoughts create doubt in self confidence, therefore learning is not fun at all. This is not a good thing. On the other hand Students Under Stress by Marcia Clemmitt points out what an elementary school principal expressed, “Teachers concentrate on teaching academic kills that enable kids to take the test without a high level of anxiety”(Paterson). I can not help but wonder why teachers are concentrating on teaching students test taking techniques rather than other subjects that should be taught in school. She expands on how standardized testing effects the teachers just as much as it does the students. She points out that

    “Some school critics say that new high-stakes testing mandated by some states and by the federal government over the past decade has increased pressure on teachers, whose anxiety often spills over onto students”(Clemmitt).

    Clemmitt expands on this issue on how the teachers feel discouraged and feel like they are drill sergeants. The teachers feel like they are assigning too much homework and over working the students due to the requirements of passing the mandatory tests. She then quotes Wendy A. Peterson, an associate professor of education at Buffalo State College;

    “Teachers get to the end of the day with material left, so they send it home, such assignments, originally scheduled as in-class, where the children should be doing that work with teacher present and can’t be expected to complete on their own”(Paterson)

    Further more, in the article The case against standardized testing; raising the scores, ruining the schools by Alfie Kohn concludes that standardized testing is measuring what matters least. Kohn provides an theory from Linda Darling-Hammond who says “…just as teaching to the test is completely different from providing good instruction and assessing it accurately”(Kohn). This is a valid point about how the tests successfully show if a student got the right or wrong answer, yet the tests do not show how the students got to their answer. Logically ,if someone knows a subject well, they should be able to clearly show work on how they got to their answer. The test graders do not look at the process the student took to get to their answer, they look and see if they circled the correct multiple choice answer. This does not provide a reliable evaluation on how well a student knows the material. For example, if a test taker does not know the answer but they end up circling the right answer, they are going to be evaluated that they do in fact know the material because they circled the correct answer. Now on the other hand, if a student does all the work correctly, but makes a tiny mistake that alters their answer to the wrong answer, they would be evaluated as not knowing the material. This is undoubtedly not ethically fair. Kohn is also sure to point out that “Teachers often feel obliged to set aside other subjects for days, weeks or even months at a time in order to devote themselves to boosting students’ test scores”(Kohn). Basically he is saying that the test material becomes the curriculum. How is this good? It is not good, because this prevents teachers from focusing on important real life situations that students are guaranteed to run into later in their life. Kohn says,

    “Kathy Greeley, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, middle school teacher, had devised a remarkable unit in which every student selected an activity that he or she cared about and then proceeded to become an expert in it”(Kohn).

    These tests are preventing students from learning about things they enjoy. According to the examples and conclusions Kohn provides, he has a good understanding on why standardized testing is not the best choice of assessing a students understanding in material being taught.
    High-Stakes Testing and Curricular Control; A Qualitative Metasynthesis by Wayne Au illustrates what the effect of high-stakes testing on the curriculum is. Au explored the meanings of curriculum and high-stakes testing and undertook a comparatives study of 49 qualitative studies of high-stakes testing to better understand testing’s impact on the curriculum. The data collected after the studies were completed indicates that

    “high-stakes testing educational environments, the tests have the predominate effect of narrowing curricular content to those subjects included in the tests, resulting in the increased fragmentation of knowledge forms into bits and pieces learned fro the sake of the tests themselves, and compelling teachers to use more lecture-bases, teacher-centered pedagogies”(Au)
    This leads me to believe that the tests do in fact provide an organized structure in a classroom, by focusing on specific content that every other school will be learning too. This makes the teaching in each school equal. I believe that standardized testing is really dragging teachers down with too much to teach is such a little amount of time. Important curriculum material is being left on the back burner and according to Au, research has found that “high-stakes testing undermines education because it narrow curriculum, limits the ability of teachers to meet the socio-cultural needs of their students, and corrupts systems of educational measurement”(Au). Also, the study also shows that teachers are using more lecture-based teaching styles. Many kids have learning disabilities that prevent them from comprehending information without being in involved in the material. When being lectured kids are involved with their ears but, they are not kinesthetically or visually involved as they should be to memorize and learn the material well.
    So, what is good about standardized testing? Two Cheers for Standardized Testing by John F. Covaleskie illustrates two main reasons why standardized testing is good.

    “The central theme of the paper is that standardized testing today is often used to attack or punish educators and/or schools but that educators should not on the ground oppose testing; it is the use, not the test, that we should oppose”(Covaleskie).

    This makes it clear that Covaleskie is for standardized testing. Covaleskie uses three key terms throughout his article; political realities, democracy and testing, and educational effects. To summarize his political realities argument, he clearly states that “Educators need to become players in the political game, working to improve, not stop testing”(Covaleskie). Basically he is saying that ending standardized testing is going to be a hard battle to win, but nothing is going to happen unless people get involved, especially teachers and administrators themselves. Therefore educators should become involved in politics themselves, and focus on how to improve the tests, rather than putting an end to them. Next, Covaleskie focuses on democracy and testing by using multiple examples and realities. He says that States fund schools, and have the authority and responsibility under the U.S. and State Constitutions to control the education in the states. He argues that “Schools are partly responsible for bringing children into social and political membership, which makes the content and quality of schooling a compelling state interest”(Covaleskie).
    Standardized tests are not a good idea, firstly because they cause stress on students, teachers, and parents. There are more valid, proven reasons on why high-stakes testing is not in the best interest of the educational system. Also, the amount paper used to provide millions of students with these tests. The environment is in trouble, and the paper used on these tests is certainly not helping. Further more, the amount of money it costs to produce and grade the tests. That money could be going to the schools themselves, to make learning more enjoyable and effective for the kids. The curriculum change is only good for, structure, but couldn’t the structure be fixed even without the tests?

    1.Is my organization good?
    2.Did I cite things correctly?
    3.Is my argument clear?


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    Post  charlie.barrows on Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:10 pm

    1. I think you had good organisation throughout the paper
    2. add page numbers to citations after quotes
    3. Yes, it is clear that you are arguing against standardized testing
    Things you did well
    1. You had a great use of quotes throughout the article to help add validity to your arguments
    2. I really liked your second paragraph on test induced stress
    3.You have a strong conclusion paragraph
    Things to improve on
    1. A few minor spelling errors
    2. Discuss how Kohns article relates to your other sources
    3. as mentioned earlier add page numbers to citations

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    Post  ross.alexander on Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:58 pm

    i apologize for i am absolutely terrible when it comes to peer reviewing. I think your organization is nice, your thoughts make sense and flow in a logical manner. You have a few grammatical errors, but thats an easy fix. Well done Smile

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    Post  terezhubble on Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:33 pm

    1. You had great organization throughout your paper.
    2. Quotations should have a year and page number for better reference.
    3. Your argument against standardized testing is clear.

    1. Your Quotations corresponded well with what you were trying to say.
    2. I like your thesis statement.
    3. Nice organization again.

    1. Make the connection between Kohn and your other sources.
    2. Fix Citations
    3. Few grammar and spelling errors.

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