Evaluation tests or exams in school are an aspect of the education system that many students dread. They are however a core part of any education system around the world such that students are forced to sit for them. They are a tool applied in the assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of students' learning and performance in various education systems and levels around the world. The United States is not left behind. The school system in the States places examinations at a level where it is a priced tool in the education system. It is the reason why there is evidence of evolution in school assessment in the United States. It views that improvements in schools require the application of standards of high achievement, the conversion of expectations in the education system into assessments that are rigorous and the demand for accountability on all educators concerning student's assessment as evident in their test scores.
The Learning Process Objectives and Completion Standards
There are standards in place especially in the United States that stakeholders in the education system follow religiously in checking for accountability in the students and educators. These tests tell us how much students have learned, whether there is the meeting of standards and whether educators have done the job they were hired to do (Stiggins 4). It, therefore, raises the concern whether exams are the right way of assessing the learning process of students. Many individuals, especially students, feel that there is a need for examinations to be abolished for a more favorable assessment system in schools. They believe that exams do not give them an opportunity to be creative and open minded but limit them to the books.
Should Examinations Be Abolished?
School Mandate to Focus On Standardized Test
Various reasons why standardized tests are a problem. These tests have their importance in the assessment of how students are performing in education, but when students learn for the exams, the learning process becomes corrupt. One reason for the abolishment of tests in schools is that there is a great focus on trying to improve mathematics scores and reading that less attention goes to other parts of the education system including the humanities i.e. history, literature, social studies, the arts, and sports. Educators put a lot of faith in mathematics and languages just for the examinations because they want their students to perform best in the subjects. They are often the main areas individuals view when assessing the performance of students. To begin with, a narrow focus on improving reading and math scores has led school systems to cut back on subjects the standardized test doesn't focus on, such as the arts, the humanities (social studies, history, and literature), and physical education (Ravitch 2).
Exams mainly focus on the student's memory but do not check on his/her powers to reason or analyze various aspects of their learning process However, the results on standardized examinations only seem to report one-dimension of a much more complex and nuanced reality of what students know (Milner 3). Many examinations are often in a way that requires the student to put what he/she learns in class on the paper. Most of them do not rely on how creative the student is but on what the student grasps from the educator. Therefore when students are preparing for exams, their focus is to memorize what the teacher gives them during class time so that they can paste it on the examination paper. Subject areas like mathematics which depend on formulas and set processes can only be as they are in the books because that is the right and only way.
Standardized Tests Are an Unreliable Measure of Student Performance
There is the issue of exit exams especially for students joining higher learning institutions in the United States. They are often a procedural activity that every student who wants to advance to these levels goes through to identify whether they are best suited to get into an institution of higher learning. There are, however, students whose performance is often relatively small. The exit exams become a challenge to them because they may not reach the expected score. In such instances, these students will not even take an attempt at the exams or have the hope of joining a college or the university. For example, the existence of a testing requirement could retard the academic engagement of very low-performing students who see little chance of passing the exam (Dee 6).
The evaluation and accountability of educators are often in the performance of their students in the exams. It, therefore, means that all students in a particular instructor's class have to be at a given level in performance of tests for the educator to be doing his/her work. It exerts an immense amount of pressure on teachers where they need to do all they can to ensure that students perform well. Some may go to the level of turning away students who seem to be performing poorly all in the pressure to provide an incredible result in the examination. Second, teaching to the test encourages dubious practices that artificially raise test scores. For example, school systems can inflate test scores by expelling low performers or refusing to enroll less-performing students (Ravitch 2). It is, therefore, a precise indication of the levels to which school systems and educators can reach just to ensure a perfect score in exams. Educators may even reach the levels of informing students what to expect in the exams because mostly the educators are the ones who set these examinations.
Exams also encourage cheating on the part of the students. In many cases, they are a determinant of whether a student takes the next step in the school system or not. No student wants to be at the same level of learning and therefore would do all it takes to ensure he/she passes the exams. A good example is the issue of exit exams for high school students which are a standard procedure for the entry to institutions of higher learning. Strictly speaking, students are not able to graduate from high school if they fulfill other state or local requirements (such as coursework) but score lower than the cut-off score i.e. the required proficiency level, in the HSEE (Ou 5). Many students have the desire to further their studies especially by joining institutions of higher learning to ensure that they get a fair opportunity in the job market. Therefore if a student feels that the exam is going to be a hindrance for him/her to make it to college or university he/she will cheat in the exam just to reach the next level.
Pressure to Succeed on Standardized Tests
Exams also put immense pressure on the students. In the current education system, they are the only determinant of how the learning lifespan of a student progresses. For one to move from one grade to the next, there is an exam. If one fails an exam that is supposed to help him/her to advance to the next grade, he/she does not move. It is the kind of pressure exams exert on students. It, therefore, means that they have to do all they can to pass exams and thus move to the next level. Exit exams determine whether an individual from high school transits to an institution of higher learning. There is, therefore, a lot on the line for students when it comes to passing exams. There are expectations from various individuals in the student's life for him/her to do well in the exams.
Teachers expect that the student will do well, parents need their child to pass exams and the education system expects no less from them. They, therefore, encounter multiple sources of pressure for them to do well in their examinations. This type of pressure is never healthy for the students and has adverse effects on their health especially psychologically, students can even fail standardized tests from too much pressure. They may feel that they are not good enough because they are not performing as other people expect them to do well. They may also not want to let everyone down thus push themselves beyond their limits. Such instances may be because of issues like depression in the students because they may not attain the targets other influential people in their lives set especially their teachers and parents. In extreme cases there are instances where students who fail in exams that are determinants of a significant milestone in their lives resort to suicide because they feel worthless and because they have failed, their life has no meaning.
The Bell Curve and Standardized Test Scores
Examinations also bring a shift in focus of resources away from those students considered to be high-performing individuals. School systems and educators have an aim of students doing well in the exams, and this is only possible through an average performance from the students that meets the required threshold. It means that every student needs to be at a certain level in knowledge and subject understanding for the class or school to generate the expected result in any exam. In many instances, education bodies like No Child Left Behind (NCLB) have standards put in place whose application on teachers and students determines the accountability of educators. It, therefore, means that there is a set standard for schools and instructors to meet. Therefore the concerned individuals or institutions will do all they can to ensure students pass their examinations As reflected in this student's comments, high stakes testing is contributing to the de-professionalization of teachers (Mathison 6).
In every class in whatever education system students will have varied performance levels. It means that there is a standard curve in performance matters for a class. There will be bright students who can score A. There will be average students and those who are below average. It may occur that those who are below average are pulling the mean score of the class down. The focus of the school system may, therefore, shift to these students who are below average leaving the brilliant students to work on their own. However, these students may be clever but still need the support of an educator for them to grasp various concepts in their learning materials. On the one hand the move may be an incentive for the brilliant students to focus more and study hard but on the contrary, it may make them feel neglected and left out because they get little or no help from the educators.
In many instances, exams do not determine how an individual's future turns out. Stakeholders in education and even school systems view tests to be essential aspects of a person's life. It acts as a stepping stone to the next level of education, and in some instances, it may be a hindering factor to one moving ahead in their studies. Individuals sit for exams and not all of them pass. What the school system does not teach these people especially those who do not pass is that it is never the end of everything when one fails their exams. Historically we see innovative and successful individuals whose current success was never as a result of their education. Many of these individuals were below-average, and their scores in the various exams did not help them. An example is the late Steve Jobs who did not do so well at the college level, but he decided to define his life in a different way and not through the exams he failed during his time in college.
It is, therefore, clear that exams revoke a lot of unnecessary pressure on students when in some instances they are just exams and add no value to the student's future life. The student acquires the necessary knowledge through the concepts he/she grasps from his/her educators and how the student applies these concepts to situations in their daily life. Exams only act as a measurement of intelligence which is never appropriate in whatever education system. Students, therefore, do not need the pressure and exposure to exams that in many cases do not determine the course of their lives in the future.
Examinations also act as an inappropriate form of evaluation for the ability of various students. Every individual has the ability in different aspects of life or learning. Some may be more conversant with mathematics than others. Other students...
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