Today America is dealing with a very broken education system. Many schools are struggling for necessary resources, such as nurses, while other school maintain luxuries of wealth. Such a inequality calls citizens to look at the system and what is not working. Right now, a major determiner in how much funding schools get, how capable a student is, and how well a school in doing is standardized testing. However, many people from educators, to parents, to students themselves say this system doesn't work and they work towards alternative methods. Because standardized testing is unjust and inefficient alternative, more applicable, and constructive education methods are what society needs to draw on to better societal education.
Since 2002, when the No Child Left Behind act passed, resulting in nationwide standardized testing, the United States has dropped internationally in several subject categories including math, and science along with no change in reading. Those subjects are all on American Standardized tests. This is after 44% of school districts were forced to narrow down on social studies, and the arts to focus more on teaching to the test. Right now Finland uses no standardized testing and is ranked as the number one in education internationally. These facts prove the inefficiency and negative affect of a system set up around standardized testing. A Brookings Institution study found that 50%-80% of increases in scores were only based on yearly preparation. Standardized testing doesn’t make exceptions for non english fluent students. Standardized testing is so stress inducing that teacher booklets include teacher procedures if students vomit or pass out. Despite these issues, the U.S spends 1.7 billion on standardized testing a year. Because the inefficiency, cost, and injustice of standardized testing, the education system needs to find different models of education.
A great thinker on alternative methods is Paulo Freire. Paulo Freire was born in 1921 in Brazil. His family suffered poverty. This childhood experience gave him the critical lens on the way education worked. He lived most of his adult life as a thinker, writer, community organizer, and educator. Much of his writings were on education systems and how they did and didn’t work. An organization dedicated to Paulo Freire thinking has a quote summarizing his idea of dialogue “Each must trust the others; there must be mutual respect and love (care and commitment). Each one must question what he or she knows and realize that through dialogue existing thoughts will change and new knowledge will be created.” These ideas and concepts make up the Freirean model. This juxtaposes the system where the primary concern is information transferred for regurgitation. The Freirean model is ultimately more memorable for all participants, and much more applicable to the real world. If people have a lasting relationship with each other, they can build on top of previous knowledge and educational experience. Because dialogue is within a relational system that standardized testing can never recreate it is more applicable to the real world, encourages engagement from all students not leaving any behind, and nurtures community through two way exchanges versus just top down. this model creates and better system of education and evaluation of students.
The Freirean model may sound difficult to pull off, but it can happen in a traditional setting. Science Leadership Academy (SLA) is a project based school that uses the scientific method of thinking across all subjects. In the “Mission and Vision” section of SLA’s website it states three questions that guide its work. “How do we learn?, What can we create?, What does it mean to lead?” These questions are key to an alternative model. “How do we learn?” Science leadership is a very diverse school (Asian-6%, African American-38%, Latino-10%, White-36%, Other-6%) this shows a more diverse group students benefits from the project based method then standardized testing. All questions in standardized test are either a one answer multiple choice question or a carefully formulated “open ended” question that also have a very basic answer with strict instructions that allow for no expression or creative thinking. In contrast, In a project there are instructions, but they also have extensive room for thinking and creating student's own thought and innovation and this allows instructors to see more clearly the thinking processes and knowledge of the students. Standardized testing is a top down system that allows for no qualities to be measured except how well students can complete a multiple choice test. If Americans want student leaders, if Americans want innovation, if Americans want a system that works for a more diverse group of students standardized testing is much worse than project based learning.
Standardized testing cost billions of dollars, takes up hours of valuable class time, and doesn’t accurately measure students ability. There are many other ways to measure and teach students beside standardized testing. Relational teaching and dialogue helps create and better learning environment and encourages higher participation of students. Project based learning uses more thinking and encourages innovation and creativity. If all affected by the education system thought about it, the system of standardized as an overall negative effect on education, therefore it should be replaced with more beneficial methods of education.
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