Student Testing Gets An “F” From Teachers

Thanks to Race to the Top (RTTT) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the  United States has increasingly become a nation where children are trapped behind desks with #2 pencils and bubble sheets. Student testing, originally devised as a metric for measuring individual student progress and helping teachers identify specific needs, has become an instrument of teacher and school evaluation, one teachers argue is not effective or appropriate. Long-resistant to the abuses of student testing, some teachers are starting to fight back, wanting the best for their students.

In Portland, teachers are being assaulted for refusing to lend their signatures to the district’s RTTT application. Teacher Adam Sanchez notes that while teachers have been sharply criticized in the media for not supporting the district’s application, the media have been leaving out some important facts behind the story. Like the fact that funds through the program wouldn’t address issues like teacher shortages and ballooning class sizes, which directly harm children and teachers alike.

And the fact that the application relies heavily on testing as a measure of teacher performance and accountability, despite the fact that testing is an extremely flawed measure and predictor of outcomes:

The single most important factor contributing to low student achievement is poverty. Study after study has shown that there is a strong correlation between family income and test scores. Those who have wealthy parents are at the top, and low-income students are at the bottom.

If one wants a biased measure of teacher and student performance, in other words, standardized tests are excellent; and if one is interested in the zip codes of students, such tests can be highly useful. In terms of measuring actual student achievements as well as teacher efficacy, though, standardized testing is largely ineffective. Researchers earlier this year, in fact, found that data suggest “they are virtually useless at measuring the effects of classroom instruction” in Texas, and these findings likely hold implications for the rest of the nation as well.

Portland’s teachers aren’t alone in refusing to sit down for flawed approaches to education reform that rely heavily on test results instead of more holistic measures of teacher and student outcomes. Their concerns about the reliance on testing above all other metrics illustrate the complex intersections within the US school system, like the fact that race and income still have a profound effect on the quality of education received and the likelihood of future success for US students.

It also doesn’t escape the notice of education advocates that student testing is a very profitable business, especially in the case of high-stakes testing used to make “definitive” evaluations of teachers and districts. Some are concerned that the ultimate outcome of testing could be a dismantling of the public education system in the US, where an attempt to homogenize and codify children and teachers results in destruction of effective teaching methods and access to a high quality free public education for students.

As the future of this nation’s innovation, economy and more, children need the best education possible, and teachers stand ready to provide it. Their concerns about standardized testing should be alarming parents across the country, because they speak to very real worries about the quality of education they can provide, and the best outcome for students in the classroom. If the shared collective goal is for better education in the United States, it’s time to take a hard look at education policy and wonder when, why, and how testing became so integral to assessing students and teachers — and whether it’s the right choice for US schools.


Related stories:

Standardized Test Flaws Fail Students

How Important Are Test Scores In Evaluating Teachers?

Texas Guide to Raising Test Scores: “Disappear” Your Students


Photo credit: boon chuan low


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you S. E. smith, for Sharing this!

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Allan Yorkowitz
.5 years ago

All the hell we do is test in NJ. We test quarterly on student achievement. we have a state check off sheet to monitor children's tech. knowledge...
The bottom line is, children overall have nowhere the ability the the state thinks they should have.

Leia P.
Leia P.5 years ago


Joel Romp
Joel R5 years ago

loved this article, hit on everything I've been noticing and things that my wife(who is a teacher) discusses with me

Christian R.
Land Lost5 years ago

So how do you measure basic knowledge then?

Liliana G.
Liliana G5 years ago

So NCLB proposed all children would progress more or less evenly but incomes were left intact or worse, the divide deepened over the last two decades... Maybe it was some secrete conspiracy to lead people into madness!!!

John B.
John B5 years ago

Thanks for sharing this sad news.

marc p.
Marc P5 years ago

NCLB has been the worst thing for academia in this country ever. Schools no longer educate but rather indoctrinate children. Unfortunately until now teachers have been largely silent about it. We have also given administrators FAR too much independent control over our children. This has led to completely inane disciplinary processes where we have some students getting arrested for ridiculously minor things and administrators withholding diplomas, enacting suspensions in cases where the kids were actually heroes. (Like the child who was refused their diploma for having to many "Tardy" or absent days caused by having to tend to their cancer stricken parent. - The child was an honor student despite this...) We also have too many parents who refuse to allow their kids to be held accountable for their actions and instead blame teachers for their child's shortcomings and failures.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

Educate to take a test...and you have created an non-creative non-thinker thinker and one who hasn't learn much at all.