New Study Reveals Problems with Standardized Testing

A Gallup Poll about the public’s opinion on The Common Core Standards and the use of standardized test in education was released last week. In a previous post I commented on the findings about The Common Core Standards. Today I’d like to address the perceptions of standardized tests.

According to the poll’s findings, when asked whether “a significant increase in standardized testing” has “helped, hurt, or made no difference” in local school performance:

  • 22% percent said that it has helped. Back in 2007, 28% said it had helped.
  • 36% said it has hurt.
  • 41% percent said it has made no difference.
  • In all, over three-quarters of Americans believe that the increase in student testing has made no difference or has actually hurt the schools.
  • Additionally, 58% of the respondents opposed requiring teacher evaluations that “include how well a teacher’s students perform on standardized tests.” In 2012, 47% opposed the practice.

It’s time for policy makers and educational leaders to listen to what the public is saying and take heed. The fact is that (1) standardized tests do not correlate with most school curriculums, (2) these tests are biased toward higher economic communities, and (3) they are not valid because they were not developed to assess if what has been taught has been learned.

My hope is that in the future, people will look back and ask, “How did we justify using standardized tests (where half the test takers automatically fall below 50%) as an accountability instrument? How did we justify determining people’s successes or failures solely on taking ‘pencil and paper’ tests? How did we support a system where success is based on checking facts—most of which inevitably are forgotten—rather than on factors that assess responsible citizenship and elements that are essential in living successful lives after formal schooling?”

Standardized tests, by their very nature, are designed to discriminate, not to assess learning. As W. Edwards Deming (the international expert who brought both improved quality and lower costs to the workplace) said, “THE MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION CANNOT BE MEASURED; THE VARIABLES ARE TOO GREAT.”