Standardized Testing And Its Social Effects

Adam’s just posted about how one student in Texas is wisely resisting state-wide standardized testing:

Mia Kang stared at the test sheet on her desk.

It only was practice. Teachers call it a “field test” to give them an idea of how students will perform on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

But instead of filling in the bubbles and making her teacher happy, Mia, a freshman at MacArthur High School, used her answer sheet to write an essay that challenged standardized testing and using test scores to judge children and rank schools.

“I wrote about how standardized tests are hurting and not helping schools and kids,” said Mia, who looks and acts older than her 14 years. “I just couldn’t participate in something that I’m completely opposed to.”

Mia isn’t boycotting just the practice tests. The straight-A student said she’ll refuse to take the state- and federally-mandated tests Texas teachers begin administrating next week.

The decision isn’t a popular one. When Mia refused to take the practice test, two school guidance counselors came to the classroom to try to change her mind.

“They warned me that it would be a black mark on my record and that I should choose my battles wisely,” Mia said.

So it seems it’s not just in Korea that this problem exists. It might help if someone in Texas, working in the news, noted the effects of such testing in Korea. You got your suicides, your massive private expenditures on cram schools, student exhaustion and depression, and arguably a damaging approach to education focused almost solely on passing those exams so you can get into a “good school”. Even the brightest students I’ve met have confessed have confessed to a period of wasted time at university after high school, recuperating and partying for the first time in their lives. A good number of students continue this way throughout college, too, as far as I can tell, focused on those periodic exams.

The downside of the rote-learning approach is, as Adam notes, that you get fewer and fewer critical people, and those few peoples’ criticisms are received hospitably by fewer and fewer of their fellows, or so it seems to me. Which, you know, makes sense because the nation was, until recently, under an authoritarian state, and traces of that authoritarianism remain to this day. (Such as the ease with which online censorship was achieved, and the vocal support that a number of Korean netizens apparently gave this censorship.)

But it’s worse than that: rote-learning adversely affects the creativity of people, and that is, and must be, absolutely bad for the economy in general, in plenty of ways I won’t bother to enumerate here. Sure, some of it’s tied up with Confucian social attitudes, and other problems, but I have to say I think education must play a part in it.

And wow, Bush wants to make the US system more like that. Greaaaaaat.

2 thoughts on “Standardized Testing And Its Social Effects

  1. It’ll be truly ironic that a generation from now, the dumbing down of the American education system will be a major factor in the loss of US power in the world.

  2. Hmmm. That and the fact that they’ve flushed their international credibility down the toilet, not just the government but the citizens too, for voting in such a ridiculous Administration again.

    Oh, wait… the first led to the second, I’d wager.

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