Governmental policies such as the No Child Left Behind Act have promoted a school environment that is centralized around standardized tests. This has changed the entire academic dynamic from an emphasis on the mastery of material, to one that directly encourages the memorization of material in order to satisfy a testing requirement. Students are now taught by teachers who are under timetables to teach toward an AP exam or any other standardized test, a dangerous mindset that stifles out of the box thinking and creativity outside of the regiment of a strict curriculum. The government perpetuates the issue as it pushes for more standardized testing that leaves students with more impressive resumes but at the cost of less understanding than perhaps a student who had the freedom to master concepts rather than hastily memorize them. Students are made to think in a very limited way in order to perform well on a test while other, more advanced, schemas are often punished by low scores, as they do not fall under the black and white format of the tests. A full understanding of concepts takes a back seat to a hasty, memorized, perhaps lucky, correct answer. Furthermore, students who can afford expensive tutors to ensure a high performance on these tests are immediately put in a more advantageous position than students of a lower socioeconomic class; creating a greater divergence in the discrepancy between students that is exactly what federal policies strive to close.
But can the education system survive without the illusory sense of security that standardized testing provides? Precedents would imply yes. The Human Development Index ranks the United States as 13th in the world in education. Finland and Denmark, tied for first, have little standardized testing and the government focuses on ensuring that the teachers have the knowledge to build their students up with a more comprehensive style of learning.
Standardized testing is raising the lowest common denominator by lowering the education standards to a system based off of repetition and memorization rather than focusing on giving students the opportunities to fully understand concepts in an environment that promotes creativity. Petition Congress to rethink and restructure the No Child Left Behind Act that robs students of true learning.