Standardized Testing – Friend or Foe?

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Pennsylvania mother of two Michelle Gray considers standardized testing a foe indeed. While other students attending Park Forest Elementary in State College, PA are participating in two weeks of standardized tests, Gray’s two children are spending their time elsewhere. Gray told CNN that she believes the tests cause unnecessary anxiety in students, don’t accurately measure accomplishment, and are used to punish schools. Eight other parents have also decided to keep their children out of participating in testing this year, agreeing with Gray that the tests cause too much stress.

Gray’s decision to have her children opt out of standardized testing was motivated by Dr. Timothy D. Slekar’s article in the Huffington Post. Slekar, who also has a child in the Pennsylvania school system, believes that the Pennsylvania State System of Assessments (PSSAs) have a detrimental effect on his child’s learning experience at school. He says that for five months, the primary focus at school becomes preparing students to achieve adequate scores on the PSSAs, which he believes will eventually cause his son to lose all interest in school and learning.

Unlike Gray and Slekar, United Negro College Fund President and CEO Michael Lomax asserts that the tests are an important tool in improving the U.S. education system. He believes that testing will help hold U.S. schools to a higher standard. When speaking with CNN, Lomax said, “The testing isn’t the reason the schools are failing. The instruction is the reason the schools are failing”. Many parents agree with Lomax that testing will have a positive effect on the quality of education available to U.S students.

The number of parents who have made the decision to opt their children out of testing remains insignificant at this time. How do you feel about standardized testing in your child’s school? Does testing have a negative effect on learning in our schools, or will testing help to improve the standard of education offered in the U.S. 

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