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Standardized Testing: The Negative Impact on the Education System

11 Dec

Cartoon making fun of Standardized Testing

Colleges use a few indicators when determining the students they will accept and whether a student deserves to receive any scholarships. The primary used by colleges is the score that a student achieved on one of the standardized tests, such as the ACT or the SAT There is debate among scholars over whether an individual’s true intelligence can be determined by answering a few multiple choice questions and if standardized testing really has a positive impact on the education systems. One side of the debate argues that standardized testing has a positive effect because it shows how students rank amongst their fellow classmates based on these scores, and it shows how well the teachers prepared their students for the test. The other side argues that universities put too much emphasis on these tests that do not show a student’s true potential. The emphases that universities place on these biased standardized tests are leading to numerous negative effects on high school classrooms, and the way universities view future students.

These tests are designed to show a student’s ability to answer numerous multiple choice questions in a limited amount of time. The goal is to represent how knowledgeable a student is in curriculum classes such as science, English, math and reading. The administers of the educational system argue that these tests accurately display how well a student can perform on a test. It displays how much knowledge an individual has in these selected categories, and shows how well they will perform in classes that are related to these subjects.

The average student takes multiple tests a month in high school, so why should this ONE test determine whether that student receives scholarships to help pay for college? A student may devote all of his time in high school to do well in school, he could graduate top of his graduating class based on GPA, but not be able to do well on a standardized test. How can a student be measured on just a few multiple choice questions that he answered in a few minutes?  Peter Sacks, who studied at Oxford, Yale, and Harvard, and is currently a Harvard professor, wrote his book, ‘Standardized Minds’, over the problems caused by standardized testing.  One of his three main problems with standardized testing is its inability to show an individual’s true potential as a student (Sacks). It is hard to believe that someone’s capability as a student can be displayed on one multiple choice test.

 

With the ACT, one specific standardized test, it is likely for someone to be lucky and score well on the test since there is a 25% chance of getting each question right. Some people also require more time to complete a test. The time limit that is placed on these tests causes some students to panic, and rush, and unable to even think it through, which leads them to do worse on the test. These time-based tests make it unfair for those participants that actually like to ponder on a question before they answer it. The time requirement is absurd. If one person takes ten seconds to select the correct answer, another individual takes ten minutes to select the correct answer, is the person who
answered the question the quickest more correct?  People process information at different rates and in different ways. People who answer the questions quicker are not more intelligent, they just think faster.

 

Just because a person does well on one test does not mean they will be a dedicated or willing to do all the work needed to get the diploma they are seeking after. These tests do not always show a student’s true knowledge; as stated earlier, an individual could get lucky and guess right without having any knowledge on the subject. As with other tests that have essay or short answer questions on it, the individual has to display his intelligence by giving a response. Unlike multiple choice tests that show they are capable of making a circle around one of the answers, student generated responses because actually require the person to display what they actually know by formulating and writing a response.

In addition to not displaying a student’s true potential, standardized tests also causes teachers to change the way they teach, which prevents students from reaching their full potential. Teachers teach in order to prepare for the test, not in a way that will help students learn the most. In Olaf Jorgenson’s book, “The Death of Science,” he discusses the idea that standardized testing and the preparation for these tests are causing a decline in the science field. His reasoning for this belief is that teachers spend more time lecturing to prepare for these tests, which causes students to lose interest in science, so they are less likely to go after a job that is in the science field. The way to get students interested in science is by letting them experiment with labs, so they will see the interesting side of science, not just the boring lecture side (Jorgenson). Jorgenson was elected president of the Association of Science Materials Centers and a faculty member with the National Science Resources Center’s Leadership Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER). He is a very distinguished in the science field, and is capable of seeing the problems that standardized testing has on the science department.

Standardized testing causes the idea that the classes’ main goal is to prepare students for these tests. They teach mainly just what they think will help the students on the test, not what will help them in their future classes or professions. In multiple resources, such as the book, ‘Is Too Much Riding on High-stakes Tests?’ by Deborah Smith ( a New York times bestselling author, and now editor and director of the small publishing company, BelleBooks), they discuss how the amount of funds a school receives is based on how well these schools average as a whole on the standardized tests. So according to this book, she states that schools are known to hold back certain students that may not do as well as other students, just so that they can keep their averages up. This book also shows that there is a correlation between the numbers of students that are held back, and the number of students that drop out (Smith).

In some schools, the studies show that schools that used this method to raise their scores, led to multiple student dropouts. It is a schools job to make sure that students receive an education; but the schools that focus on scores of standardized tests are leading to more problems, such as increase in dropout rates.  These tests not only show a partial amount of a student’s potential, but they also effect a school as a whole, in a way that prohibits the school  from reaching its’ full potential.

Not only are these tests biased against people that require more time on the test, but it is also biased against specific groups of people. Take for instance; foreign students that are not as well equipped with the English vocabulary as someone that went through English classes their entire school career are still forced to take the same test, which consists of an English and Reading portion. It is completely illogical to believe that someone that has not been taught the English language their entire life would be able to correct English grammatical mistakes, read a whole passage (in English), and analyze these passages enough to answer the question as well as someone that has been surrounded by the English language since birth.

These tests are also biased against lower income families. There are classes offered to individuals where they can go and prepare for these tests. There are also study books that can be purchased that offer study tips and practice tests that help people prepare for these tests. Both the classes and the study books costs more than some of the lower income families can afford. Not everyone has the money to pay for the classes or test prep books, so it is an unfair advantage to the ones that can.

It also creates a bias on the amount of scholarship a person will receive. Why should a future music major’s scholarship be based on how well he did on the math or science portion of a test? How do these tests display how well a student could do in, let’s say, an art class? There is not an art portion on the test, so it does not display how much a student knows in his selected major. So why should someone’s intelligence be determined by a test that does not even represent what they want to study? These test display many biases against multiple groups, and it also develops biases against incoming college students on what scholarships they receive based on how well they did on these tests.

It is easy to find the flaws in an education system that relies primarily on one test to show the value of a person. One test is not able to represent a person’s true intelligence; nor is it possible for someone to show all they know by answering a few multiple choice questions. It also leads to many flaws in the way teachers go about instructing their students; they set up class to prepare students for these tests. They do not focus on what really matters; teaching students in a way that will cause them to aspire to learn and help them to do well in future classes. These tests also display multiple biases against certain groups. The way they are structured causes many complications and disadvantages for various groups. It is easy to say that these tests do not represent the value of a student; if anything they decrease the value of a student by making them feel less intelligent because they did not do as well on a biased test. In the words of Albert Einstein, one of the most profound scientists of all time, (even though he had extreme difficulty taking standardized tests), “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” In summary, colleges should not group everyone together, and base a student’s worth based on one test, because a person’s true genius cannot by displayed be circling a few answers.

Works Cited Page

Sacks, Peter. Standardized Minds. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus, 1999. Print

Jorgenson, Olaf and Rick Vanosdall. “The Death of Science?” Phi Delta Kappan 83.8

(2002): 601. Academic Search premier. Text. April. 2002.

Smith, Deborah. “Is Too Much Riding on High-stakes Tests?” American Psychological      Association (APA).              Web. 03 Nov. 2011

Stoppable (Go to the bottom link for the video)

11 Dec

The movie ‘Unstoppable’, which was based on true events, shows how much damage one train can do. The weight of the actual freight on the train is 3,100 tons, this is not including the weight of the actual train; they can also move up to about 49 miles per hour, legally (RITA). So, like in the movie, a train would destroy almost anything that is in its path. That is why the majority of the people that are in a train related accident do not usually live. According to one survey there is approximately 12.5 people hit by a train every day, so every two hours there is someone in the United States that is in a train related accident (Injury Lawyers and Lawsuits information).

Clay Cannon looked like the average teenager; he was tall, skinny, and shaggy hair. He was an above average student in high school; top of the class, Governor Scholar, he had the highest ACT score in our senior class of over 300 students. The majority of time he was seen around school, he would be playing with one of his Rubik’s Cubes. He also ran cross country and track for the majority of high school. We had been friends ever since we went to elementary school together. I would have never expected what was about to happen to him.

One day I looked on Facebook and saw that there were a lot of posts’ that said, “Pray for Clay”, ‘Remember Clay’s family”, and other similar ones like that, I had no idea what was going on, I hadn’t heard anything about it, I was getting kind of worried. I messaged one of my friends and asked him what was going on. My friend told me that Clay had been hit by a train; he was one of the few that actually lived an accident like this. I was shocked to hear this, I assumed that he would have been seriously injured, but I was relieved to hear he was okay.

He said he didn’t remember this, but one of the viewers of the accident told him that he got out of the car and walked a little bit and fell over (Clay). It is hard to believe that a person cannot see or hear the train coming; a train can be heard from a few miles away, and if the lights are not easy to see, the train itself is hard to miss. But he said for some reason the lights did not come on, and this railroad crossing did not have the warning guards, he was also listening to some Hendrix really loud so he did not even hear it coming (Clay). He wasn’t even aware of what happened until about an hour later.

When he was getting examined by the doctor, they first thought he just got a few scratches and bruises at first, they later found out that he had bleeding kidney’s and spleen as well. The doctor told him, “It appears that everything is fine, but in the morning it is going to feel like, well, you were hit by a train.” (Clay).  A bleeding kidney and spleen doesn’t sound very pleasant, but it is a miracle that he even lived. What was even more surprising was the accident happened on a Wednesday, and he was back to school that Friday. Most people in a regular car accident take a longer break than what he did; and he got hit by a few hundred ton moving object. Either he is really tough, or he is really lucky. He soon became somewhat of a legend; everyone in the school had heard about the accident by the end of that day. Everyone was amazed by the fact that he actually lived.

After school he was supposed to pick up his brother from baseball practice, but his brother’s practice was going to last longer than what it was supposed to, so Clay went on home. The train hit his passenger side of his car, which is the only reason that Clay lived; it didn’t hurt him as bad as it would have hit the driver’s side. A few days later they put pictures of his cars on the local radio stations website; imagine a crumpled up coke can, this is what Clay’s car looked like in the passenger side after the accident. So, if Clay’s brother had been in the car with him, he probably would not have been as lucky.

An actual picture of the passenger side of Clay's car after the wreck

No one knows when there last day is going to come. There are a thousand ways that we could die every day; someone could die from eating something they are allergic too, or in this circumstance, getting hit by a train. When someone sees Clay Cannon, now walking around the campus of UK, they would not know that he is very lucky that he is there today. That train could have easily killed him, those other 11.5 that day were probably not as lucky as what he was. Nobody knows when they are going to die, so we need to be thankful for every day that we have. Luckily, the last thing that Clay saw was not that, long dark, train.

    Works Cited

Cannon, Clay. Personal Interview, 5 October 2011.

“Railroad Accident Injuries & train accidents- Total Injury” Injury Lawyers and Lawsuit                          Information. Web. 05 October 2011. <http://www.totalinjury.com/motor-vehicle/train-                  accident/default.aspx>.

“BTS | The Nation’s Freight.” RITA | Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Web. 12 Oct.        2011. http://www.bts.gov/publications/freight_in_america/html/nations_freight.html.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFBIEXerCy0&feature=endscreen&NR=1 (Copy and paste this link into search bar and listen to this video while reading)

Mr. Moudry, the English Coach

11 Dec

 

 

 

Everyone has one teacher whom inspires them to expect more out of themselves then what they were previously were putting forth. The majority of my High School career I had fairly easy English classes; I never really had to put much effort into my work to get an A in the class. But my senior year I decided to take AP English IV, taught by Mr. Moudry. This is when my slacking off started to come back to me.

How do you inspire someone? During tennis practice, the coach doesn’t pat the player on the back and tell him good effort out there when they player messes up. A good coach gets the player and tells him all the things that he did wrong, and tells him what that he could have done instead, so that he will know what to improve on. Sometimes they even make the players a little mad, so the player will want to go and prove the coach wrong. I have played tennis since I was in 7th grade, and sometimes tennis practice and that English class seemed very relatable.

Inspirational quote about teachers

I had heard his classes were generally hard, but I figured I could put my usual effort in and come out okay in the class. The first paper was the “About Me” paper that most English classes start off with. I received an A on that paper with putting little effort into it, so it looked like this class was going to be like all of my other English classes. But then the papers that actually required some thought began to pop up.

The first book analysis we had as a class was over the book, “Pride and Prejudice.”  I remember him telling us something like, “The majority of guys do not like this book, but it actually isn’t that bad.” Well, in my opinion, it was probably the worst book that has ever been written. But when I got my paper back the grade was way lower then I wanted it to be. The majority of the papers I got back were like this. It probably had to do with the fact that I procrastinated on every paper, and didn’t put my full effort into it. At one point, one of the remarks that he put on my paper was, “This is a hot mess!”  So this started to annoy me, I wasn’t used to getting so many negative remarks on my papers.

So at the last part of the year I set a goal to start making better grades on my papers. The last paper of the year was another book analysis. The book he assigned my group was, ‘A Thousand Splendid Sons’ by Khaled Hosseini, (The second worst book that I have ever read). But this time I was determined that I was going to put more effort into this paper, I was going to show him that I could write a good paper. I put twice the work in this paper than the other papers. After turning the paper in I was eager to get it back and see what I made. When he finally gave me the paper back it was the highest grade that I had made since that “About Me’. The comment was actually positive this time, “Your writing has improved leaps and bounds since the beginning of the year.” Best comment I received all year long.

English had always been a class that I was not very fond of, but after I went and put the hard work into it, I realized that English could actually be interesting, and it kind of sparked my interest in the subject. So like the coach and player scenario, it requires tough love and hard work to get better at whatever you are doing. The majority of students’ try to get in classes with teachers that give little work. But what good will come out of taking an easy class? The only way to get better at something is to put hard work into it. A player doesn’t get better because the coach lets him do as he wishes; he gets better because the coach pushes him to be the best that he can be. This same philosophy applies to education as well. The only way a teacher can help a student too better himself, is by inspiring the student. It is the teacher’s job to inspire the student to learn, if the student fails, so does the teacher. In the words of a Buddhist proverb, “”If a seed will not grow, we do not blame the seed. Instead, the fault lies with us for not having nourished the seed properly.”