For the past several decades the United States has seen a decline within a fundamental aspect of its success and growth; education. Between the No Child Left Behind Act, the introduction of the relatively new “high stakes” testing programs such as the SAT’s, and the subverted discouragement on teachers from straying from the curriculum put out by state and the federal government, the education system has come down to promoting unilateral ways of thinking and detracting from intuitive learning and understanding how a concept (and, put simply, life) works.
The first subject to be covered will be the inclusion of high-stakes testing. High stakes testing, according to various sources has been around for quite some time; the increased prevalence and use of high stakes testing has been of great concern to many scholars and educators, with the US Department of Education citing that “It is an evil for a well taught student … to fail an examination … an unqualified student to … obtain credit in an examination.
” In gist, the Department of Education is expressing the concern that putting students into the position that they MUST pass a certain examination or be held back from going to the next grade or even college is not only wrong, in many ways it is dangerous; having unqualified individuals in a business field or practice can lead to malpractice or corruption, and of course denying a diligent and/or intelligent student the right their future is wrong by any standard.
A side effect of the emphasis on high stakes testing methods occurs within both students and teachers alike; which brings me to my second point.
As it is currently, the emphasis placed on high stakes testing is so great that instructors are often rewarded for high test scores, and their only alternative in many cases they face the risk of getting fired from their jobs if test scores do not meet a certain standard. This sort of pressure to perform can lead to the perceived lack of importance teachers report feeling according to various studies. Within other studies on the subject of high stakes testing, results showed that students also express tension and stress related to the same pressure to perform on these exams, and concerns governing the true validity of information presented by results of such examinations is questionable.
The introduction and the more recent enforcement of high-stakes testing can be attributed to the No Child Left Behind Act, signed in 2001 by George W. Bush. The act in its essence placed a quota on schools to not only test their students on a narrow facet of educational studies (The basis of a test is to examine how proficiently a student can recall a specific unit in a class) but if these schools did not meet a certain standard, referred to as “Adequate Yearly Progress,” they would face increasingly harsh penalties including being shut down or taken over by the state, or other alternatives like being converted to charter schools.