Published July 27, 2010
So a lot of you may have heard about Harvard’s “phasing out” of standardized testing. Sadly, this has been the trend for a while now. Call me old-fashioned, but it’s always been my firm belief that a teacher’s job should be for each of his or her students to finish the year with a grade of 100%.
Granted, with students like my functionally retarded former self, that’s not entirely realistic, but it should certainly be the ideal. My theory: A student arrives to class knowing nothing, but leaves the class firmly grasping the entire courseload. Almost as though the professor had “taught the subject” some might say.
What would be the best way to measure the progress of one’s learning, you ask? Ta-daa! Standardized testing. It’s a crazy thought, I know, but bear with me on this. Standardized tests don’t care if you’re white or black, short or tall or even the rate at which you learned the course material. At the end of the day, all it cares about is whether you know what you’re supposed to know. It can’t be cheated, bent or bargained with …. Much like a Russian. When it comes to efficiency, standardized tests almost sound heaven-sent.
More and more teachers are becoming less and less happy with standardized testing however, and it’s not because the tests or process have gotten any different. The tests are, after all, standardized. No, it would seem more likely that throughout the years, the priorities of teachers (from grade-school to Ivy League) have shifted dramatically. Convoluted with teachers unions, increasingly difficult courseloads and determining what constitutes a “fair” summer vacation, somewhere down the line focus shifted from bettering the students… to pleasing the teachers.
In the world of increasingly biased teaching and subjective grading, standardized tests are one of the rare instances where teachers’ feet are still held to the fire. It doesn’t matter which students were favored in class, the teacher’s opinion on geo-politics or even if they’d gotten their mandatory coffee breaks each day. The teachers have either taught the students everything they needed to learn, or they haven’t. The proof is in the pudding. Which reminds me: Whatever happened to SnackPacks?
Needless to say, a lot of teachers aren’t happy about it. Who can blame them? If you could get away with doing your job, avoiding any of those nasty quarterly reports that you have to deal with, wouldn’t you do so? The truth is that these exams aren’t just about testing students, but more importantly our teachers.
Teachers, those folks who often spend 8 hours a day with your children or young adults? Yeah, those guys.
In an increasingly complex world, with courseloads becoming heavier and heavier, shouldn’t we be opting for more accountability when it comes to our professors, not less? Do you folks think that standardized testing is a legitimate way to do that, or should grades be based solely on individual projects, which can (potentially) be relevant to subjective grading?
I know that I wish that were the case when I was in school. I make a mean paper mache vase.
Steven Crowder is a writer/comedian and Fox News contributor.
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