Thursday, December 6, 2012

State Testing

The proper system of regulation, according to many American states, is to have students fill out bubbles. If enough are filled out correctly by enough people, it's all good. Never mind that these tests are insultingly easy and require very little thought whatsoever. Pennsylvania, the state I live in, requires all students from grades three to eight to take state exams and once again in eleventh grade. Or at least, that was the case. This year, all who have taken a biology course, an Algebra I course and/or who are in an eleventh grade literature course must take the test throughout various days of the week. This happens to be the week even though it usually happens in the spring.

If you're not taking the test in my school, you love them. After all, you get to sleep in and chill out. However, not all are so lucky. After a while, classes become desirable. On the first day of testing, I was not very happy and, in my angry fog of thoughts, I tried to think of specific reasons why state testing is stupid and not just sum it up to the general anger I had.

The first is obvious. Filling in bubbles does not teach you how to think. If you don't know how to think, how will you learn how to truly learn? How will you truly get ahead? In literature, testing is like iSpy. The question asks something and you have to find the word in answer form that is almost always written in the way it was said. Math is slightly harder but not by much. It's quite obvious when taking these tests that the state has such a bare minimum for learning that it's appalling; it's quite clear that they expect us to be totally stupid. Sometimes, I wonder if this is on purpose.

The even sadder part is that it probably is making students do worse. Many teachers teach to the test, teach them how to crank out answers and cram but not actually use it for real life situations and how to methodically go through the problems in different ways.

Yes, yes, we must regulate the school system somehow. There has to be some way to see if students are actually learning, of course. But is this the solution to that? I'm not quite sure. After all, most Scandinavian countries don't administer national tests on their children and yet they have some of the best school systems in the world. Apparently, it's hard enough for many teachers to teach out of the textbook much less to actually teach kids to apply it to the real world and think.

I don't even get why they're even testing us in the first place, considering we probably won't even need to know most of the content and won't even encounter it again (especially the kids from the poorer schools they're oh so concerned about).

State testing sums up everything that's wrong with school in general. And not even American schools but schools in general.

I don't even think schools are there to teach us to learn but how to obey and perform menial tasks. It's like a factory in every way, right down to the cinder block walls. We're the machines spitting out the answers, spitting out the product.  And I don't even understand why it's anything worthwhile.

State testing is absolutely ridiculous. It would be best if everyone just forgot about it.

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