To order to focus on reading and math. (Ravitch,

To start with, standardized test can produce major
pressure on students and faculties. The
more a test is made to “count”—in terms of being the basis for
promoting or retaining students, for funding or closing down schools—the more
that anxiety is likely to rise and the less valid the scores become. (Kohn,
2000) According to education researcher Gregory J. Cizek (2001), anecdotes abound
“illustrating how testing produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest
students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both.” Given the fact that
no content is known in advance, students have to memorize an impossibly
extensive amount of knowledge. In many countries, like South Korea or Japan,
standardized test is considered a prerequisite to get into college, this puts
an incredible amount of pressure on students and has even been linked to
student suicide. The pressure can also increase rate of cheating amongst both
students and teachers. Attaching high stakes to test results also increases
cheating and other efforts to boost scores without improving educational
quality. According to Amrein-Beardsley
(2009), low-performing students are “encouraged to stay home”
on test days or “counseled to quit or be suspended” before tests are
administered. State education boards are “lowering the bar”:
manipulating exam content or scoring so that tests are easier for students to
pass.

High
pressure of testing can change educating to “teaching to the test” for many
teachers. A 2007
survey of 1,250 civics, government, and social studies teachers showed that 75%
of those teaching current events cited standardized tests as the reason.
(Knight Foundation, 2007) The increasing focus on exam performance had piled
the pressure on to both staff and students and caused them to sacrifice broader
learning. A national 2007 study by the Center on Education Policy reported that
since 2001, 44% of school districts had reduced the time spent on science,
social studies and the arts by an average of 145 minutes per week in order to
focus on reading and math. (Ravitch, 2010) The content tend to be contrived exercises that measure how
much students have managed to cram into short-term memory. Those who score well
often understand very little of the subject in question. Students may be able
to find a synonym or antonym for a word without being able to use it properly
in a sentence. They may have memorized the steps of comparing the areas of two
figures without really understanding geometric principles at all. Students who are simply “taught to the test”
fail to achieve a lasting and comprehensive understanding of subject matter. The
practice also reduces the validity of standardized tests, and can create an
incorrect profile of a student’s achievement. (Kohn, 2000)

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Despite
being widely used, standardized tests are often unreliable in measuring student’s
whole ability. First, we need to talk about its format. Most standardized tests
use the multiple-choice format. With this form of test, all calculations and
reasoning are excluded, students cannot explain how they come up with their
answer. Some students may even randomly pick one answer and still have a chance
of being correct. Another point worth considering is how its result can
fluctuate from time to time. Measurement errors in testing may result from a
wide variety of factors, such as a student’s mental and emotional state during
the test period or the conditions under which the test was administered. For
example, students may have been unusually tired, hungry, or emotionally
distressed, or distractions such as loud noises, disruptive peers, or technical
problems could have adversely affected test performance. Nevertheless, standardized
test can only measure isolated skills, while ignoring other important skills
that seem much more relevant to student’s future. For example, interpersonal skills can neither be
taught in a book nor be evaluated through a paper test, it should be developed
and indicated through real-life experiences. Other neglected skills that can be
mentioned are resilience, out-of-the-box thinking, cooperative, etc. The
ability to remember facts is heavily emphasized that students may
confuse being smart with knowing a lot of stuff. Because the tests are timed, students may be encouraged to
see intelligence as a function of how quickly people can do things. Or because
the tests often rely on a multiple-choice format, students may infer “that
a right or wrong answer is available for all questions and problems” in
life and that “someone else already knows the answer to all these
questions, so original interpretations are not expected; the task is to find
or guess the right answer, rather than to engage in interpretive activity.”
(Kohn, 2000) Only focusing on specific facts and functions goes directly
against the nature of learning.

Not only is standardized test unreliable, it also fail to
assist students in their future career. How many jobs demand that employees
come up with the right answer on the spot, from memory, while the clock is
ticking? How often are they forbidden to ask coworkers for help, or to depend
on a larger organization for support—even in a society that worships self-sufficiency?
And when the work quality needs to be judged, how common is it that a secret
pencil-and-paper exam will be given? Isn’t it far more likely that the
evaluator will look at examples of what has been done, or perhaps watch how
they perform their normal tasks? 

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