Standardized Testing Is Bad For The Education System

The Growing Emphasis On Standardized Testing Is Bad For The Education System

Schools have put way too much emphasis on tests that have absolutely no purpose other than to create an artificial learning environment.

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I was in my English class today, a lecture hall that focuses predominantly on reading novels and interpreting why stories are told when my professor looked up at all of us and called us "survivors."

Confused at where this was going to lead, he continued by saying "You guys are in a dangerous time. My son is in middle school and living it now, and it terrifies me, but you guys survived it. For you to be sitting here, still passionate about books, still wanting to learn and read and write, your creativity was salvaged."

He continued by saying, "My son used to come home so excited to tell me about the things he learned in school and the activities they were doing, but for these past two months, they have put their teacher's lesson plans on hold and are preparing for standardized testing. Now he comes home unamused and uninterested to talk. His grades are plummeting and he doesn't show as much of an interest in school anymore and it terrifies me."

This stuck with me.

To live in a generation where showing an interest in any type of art was enough for our professor to applaud us for actually put a pit in my stomach.

To hear about my professor's son have his imaginative soul stolen by a place that was supposed to encourage it... hurt me.

I thought back about all the questions I used to ask, all the bizarre ideas I used to have, the number of crazy stories I wanted to write about and all the books I used to read when I was a child and compared them to how I felt now.

Somewhere in the line from childhood to teenage years, I feel like a part of all of us was stolen too.

As much as we didn't want it to happen we started being framed into what the school curriculum wanted us to be. As soon as a number score became more profitable and easier to measure than our minds and individuality we started to follow a frame created by school systems that took time from the things we were most passionate about.

Getting a higher grade on a math test that you didn't care about became more important than searching for knowledge in realms that you were most eager to learn about.

There is something unsettlingly wrong with the school system and it needs to change.

School exists for the purpose of education. It is supposed to encourage and strengthen the minds of children and teenagers. It's supposed to make the world a place of unimaginable discoveries and adventure and curiosity. It's supposed to answer questions but more importantly, fuel them.

Recently though, it seems like the only thing it has been doing is stripping students of their individuality and creativity.

Students who may not have a passion in the field of math or English are forced to be molded into the student sitting directly next to them.

With each standardized test, conformity progresses and the creativity of these growing minds is put on hold and forced to remain stagnant.

The what if? And why? Questions become limited to the tiny one-millimeter bubble of an A-B-C-or-D answer sheet. Is that what we want our education to be confined to? Four letters to choose from and a number stamped on the top of a sheet.

A number that determines the path you will take and the success you will be having in life. A number that so inaccurately measures intelligence and completely disregards creativity and originality.

Standardized testing is taking over school systems and stripping adolescents of their creativity.

It breaks my heart to see students who are insanely intelligent and creative feel as if they are not capable or good enough because of the number a standardized test has labeled them with.

Schools have put way too much emphasis on tests that have absolutely no purpose other than to create an artificial learning environment.

Schools have begun to spend months prior prepping for these tests, carving away precious time for actual education, and making students lose interest in the lessons they are truly passionate about. Being passionate about something shouldn't make you a "survivor," it's what makes us human, but standardized testing and the growing emphasis on standardized testing robs students of this freedom every day.

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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An Open Letter To Myself At 15

This is an open letter to myself about things I wish I had known at 15.

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Dear Hailey,

You are so loved. I know times might be hard, but it will all be okay. It's okay to ride the fence and be unsure of what you want to do with your life. You're going to change your mind 10 more times before graduation anyways. Also, don't worry about all of the things that you can't change. You can't make someone fall in love with you or make her treat you like a better friend. It's okay for people not to fit in your life. Stop bending over backward for people and live for yourself. In a few years, you will go through so much, but you come out on the better side. You are going to be successful and driven. Also, learn what the meaning of "self-care" is. You need to do a lot of that in the upcoming years. Mental health is more important than anything. Also, quit cutting your baby hairs. They will never get longer so you need to embrace and love them early on. Figure out what you can change, and what you cannot. Most importantly, accept what you cannot change. When you decide that you are ready to face the things that you can change, do it with your whole heart. That doesn't mean complete perfection. It's important to know the difference. Start by making a plan for the future. Write it down, memorize it, do whatever makes it the easiest for you. Think through your plan logically, take into consideration your strengths and weaknesses. Remember to do the hard things first once in a while, the relief is sweet in the end.

You are ready.

You are young.

You are smart.

You are beautiful.

If you ever feel that you are at your lowest point, just remember the only place that you can go is up. Find reassurance in the weakness. The best is yet to come. Don't take pity on yourself. Instead, work harder to make your situation better. Be happy. There are so many things to be thankful for. Ask when you need help. No one can read your mind. Time won't stop for you. Worrying and stressing is simply a waste of time. Be strong and know that you are in God's hands. Everything will work out. It may not be today or tomorrow, but eventually, the pieces will fall into place and you will understand why things had to happen that way.

Love,

Me

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