Christopher Tienken and Julie Larrea Borst: Please, get rid of testing. It just doesn’t work.
In a guest editorial at NJ.com, Tienken, an associate professor at Seton Hall University, and Borst, executive director of Save Our Schools New Jersey, explain why it’s time to put an end to the big high stakes standardized test.
A veritable industrial-testing complex has been set up across the country that siphons educational resources from public schools to large corporations. The United States mandates more standardized tests of academic achievement than any other democratic country in the G20 group of nations. So, what have we learned from all of this testing?
Studies over the last 35 years have demonstrated that results from standardized tests are highly subjective and not entirely indicative of what is happening in the classroom. Findings from decades of scientific research suggest that standardized tests are blunt instruments, whose results can be predicted at the school and district levels by using family and community demographic data found in the U.S. Census.
Simply put, results from study after study over the last 70 years suggest that the tests are measuring more of a child’s experiences outside of school than what’s happening inside of school. The results do not provide valid information about the quality of teaching in a school, how a student learns, what a student learned, nor the learning potential of a student. According to the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, which was developed by leading education and psychology research associations, the tests are not diagnostic and the results cannot be used to inform classroom instruction.
Supporters of large-scale standardized tests continue to tell parents and taxpayers that without the results from standardized tests, no one will know how their children are doing in school or where financial resources should be allocated to close learning gaps. Both notions are false.