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What if We Eliminated Standardized Testing?

A significant amount of research has pointed towards standardized testing causing a high level of stress in students, and teachers alike. While the merit of standardized testing can, has, and will continue to be argued over for years to come, imagine for a moment a world in which standardized testing is eliminated from K-12 education altogether. I admit this is somewhat of a wasted exercise. The current structure of both the political and education systems in our country, and the amount of money involved in standardized testing puts the likelihood of their elimination at less than zero. The debate regarding charter schools also plays a role in standardized testing, and further ensures that high stakes testing is here to stay. Putting the reasons described above aside, if we are to encourage our students to be creative and think critically, we as educators ought to do the same. What better way to start, than by fantasizing about what education would like without standardized testing?
imagine for a moment a world in which standardized testing is eliminated from K-12 education altogether Click To Tweet
Imagine the world without standardized testing. Think about being an educator in this world. Instead of worrying about test scores, Common Core, and how the performance of your students affects your evaluations, not to mention your livelihood… you would be free to teach! Are you a science fanatic? You could come up with an experiment that really teaches kids about biology, physics, or chemistry, without having to worry about what the state says you can and cannot teach. Love literature? Imagine teaching Shakespeare, Melville, or even Stephanie Meyer to your classes in creative and innovative ways.
Imagine being a student in this type of scenario. Instead of constantly worrying about passing a test to move on to the next level, or to graduate, you would have the ability to focus on learning. From my personal experience as a School Counselor in a variety of settings, most students really do enjoy learning. What students do not enjoy is being forced to learn, and the stress that comes from high stakes testing. Without standardized testing, one could easily envision a scenario where students can direct their own course of student (to a certain extent) and focusing on learning that interests them. As the United States continues to fall behind other countries especially in STEM related fields, one could picture a scenario where being free from focusing on testing will help innovation and creative thinking start to flourish. Add to this a less stressed out group of students, and the increasing number of student mental health issues will start to gradually decline.
While the above scenario is clearly a fantasy, there is something to be said for the outcomes that can and might occur with the elimination of, or at least significant reduction of standardized tests. As educators, it is our obligation to continue to fight this battle as while it is certainly never easy, happier students and teachers will ultimately lead to a better education system and a better country.


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