Reform PARCC Testing
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Standardized testing is being implemented nationwide to assess student abilities and preparedness for further education. Based on testing results, teachers know what they should focus on to improve student performance for the following year. Ideally, American education and student performance would steadily improve in quality under this system.
Currently, many of these tests are incentivized. This means that students who perform well will benefit academically, having an easier time getting into a university of their choice if they choose to continue studying. Districts with high-performing students may also benefit financially.
There's a catch. In the unfortunate situation that performance is lacking, school districts and students alike will suffer consequences that are the opposite of the benefits. Students may be rejected from college in spite of otherwise sufficient credentials and districts may lose funding.
Once again, this would be fine if students were tested fairly and there was no external motive for companies to aid in education save inherent altruism.
But these tests aren't fair. They test superficial thinking skills. Take the new PARCC examinations, which will require evidence to justify a multiple choice decision. Skills like these do not test logic, reasoning, or problem-solving to an appreciable extent, and will require teachers to teach to the test, an unforgiving process that students will not benefit from in the long run.
Basically, skills being tested are nearly worthless.
To add to this, Pearson education, one of three major educational companies involved in the lucrative testing business, is selling the test to districts and making millions off of PARCC alone. Pearson also sells textbooks that may help in test preparation. They are also selling these. And making millions.
This may be an example of capitalism at work, but malignant privatization of education cannot be allowed to grow.
Now, parents, teachers, and students alike, who have been insulted by high-stakes standardized testing want change.
President Obama once campaigned under the banner of 'CHANGE.' Now is the time for our nation to bring about that change, and save the future of America.
American students need a break.
Standardized tests, like the PARCC, should temporarily be removed, and time and money should be reserved for finding more effective ways to assess student ability.
In the event PARCC will not be removed immediately, an easily accesible opt-out option should be implemented. Parents who do not wish for their children to take the PARCC exam should not have to send letters specifically outlining that they refuse. Simple instructions and a clearer process for withdrawal from testing should be made available.
Together, we can bring about the change that can put American education at the top of the world.
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