“It’s bad enough that students are required to take high-stakes standardized tests that are often poorly designed and administered, don’t assess what kids have learned, and have “cut scores” deliberately set high so few students can get top scores. What’s more, some of these K-12 “accountability” tests have no consequences for the kids but high stakes for their teachers and schools.

— Valerie Strauss

In her article for The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss asks this question in the headline: “How can anyone take standardized test scores seriously when stuff like this happens?” It’s a good question, and it points to the flaws in the system’s design. Standardized tests have been a part of the American system of education for over a hundred years. When did a test become superior to the judgment of trained educators? Tests (even so-called “standardized ones”) have their uses in helping educators see the strengths and weaknesses of a student, but the tests are merely a tool. And when you see examples like these from Strauss’s article, you can see clearly the importance of allowing teachers to use tests for information purposes, rather than as measures of achievement. A test tells students what they know and what they don’t know, and it gives them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes—but only if they are given the chance to review the test completely and to complete exercises to strengthen their weak areas.


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