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Running Head: Standardized Testing

Standardized Testing: Public Schools in El Paso

Bianca C. Ruvalcaba

University of Texas at El Paso

Professor Drapes

RWS 1302
Standardized Testing

Abstract

Standardized tests have accompanied schools for many years. Texas requires all school

districts to give standardized tests to their students. As a result, teachers have to focus on

preparing students for the tests in any way they can. Many students struggle when it comes to

taking this test. Some people believe that these test aren’t necessary for students to take them.

Others believe, these tests are necessary and what make students smarter.
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Introduction

Every school in Texas is required to give their students standardized tests. Standardized

tests are “tests that require all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions

from common bank of questions, in the same way, and that is scored in a “standard” or consistent

manner, which makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individual students or

group of students.” Most of the questions asked on the test are multiple choice. There are also

questions that deal with true or false questions, essay questions, and short answer questions.

There are two ways a student can take the test. Through paper format or through the use of a

computer. Many computers have been used for tests because its easier to grade and because its

inexpensive. There is a big controversy about standardized testing. Many people think that they

are unnecessary but experts and educators “consider them to be a fair and objective methods of

assessing the academic achievement of students. One has to question whether these standardized

tests are really worth giving to students. In doing so, four important questions need to be

considered:

1. Why are standardized tests required for the school system?
2. What skills do the tests cover?
3. What does standardize testing reveal about student growth and proficiency?
4. How much money is put into these tests?

The following research will provide answers to the questions above, and primarily

provide information on standardized testing.

Why are standardized tests required for the school system?

In Texas all school require their students to take the standardized test, but why? These

tests help teachers and students stay on track. If testing wasn’t required, the structure being
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taught by “a third grade teacher and a sixth grade teacher” (Pros and Cons of Standardized

Testing, 2013) would possibly be the same. These tests help set barriers so teachers know what to

teach their students. The tests also hold teachers accountable for the passing or failing of the

students. It is so important to the school districts that students pass. Since the scores of the tests

are used to compare each school, most of the schools are in competition to be ranked higher.

Also the schools that have higher passing rates get more money, which is why it is important that

students get the passing scores. The tests are also used to provide “accurate comparison between

sub-groups” (Pros and Cons of Standardized Testing, 2013). The sub-groups include special

needs, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc. With this information schools can provide services to

the different sub-groups that need improving scores.

These tests cause negativity as well. A lot of the times students that are smart with

classwork end up failing the standardized test when it comes to taking it. This is one big problem

that has been happening. “There are many people who simply do not perform well on tests”

(Pros and Cons to Standardized Testing). Stress plays a big role, not only on the student but also

on the teacher. This can lead to teachers quitting or students to just give up and not try. Most

school systems are under pressure trying to find ways that will prepare the students. The future of

the school systems relies on these Standardized tests.

What skills do the tests cover?

Teachers try their best to try and cover everything that the student needs to know in order

to succeed in the test. The law “No Child Left Behind requires that each state must measure every

child’s progress in reading and math in each of grades 3 through 8 and at least once during the
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grades 10 though 12” (Testing Frequently Asked Questions, 2004). Reading and Math are one of

the most important subjects that are required for children to be familiar with, which is why

material dealing with the subject are always found on the tests, no matter what grade. English is

also given to students to test on, but it also depends on the grade that they are in. There are also

other subjects like history, geography and writing skills that are given to students.

For students with disabilities and students that have low English proficiency, a test still is

required from them. Yet, the states make accommodations for them so they can have the chance

to take the tests without it being hard. For students with English proficiency, “accommodations

may include native language versions of the assessment” (testing Frequently Asked Questions).

This may not always be the case, because it also depends on how long the student has been in

U.S schools.

What does standardize testing reveal about student growth and proficiency?

Standardized testing reveals a lot of different thins form student growth and proficiency.

It revels the measure of achievement for college readiness. “For many students, standardized

testing provides them with a valuable outlet to set themselves apart from their high school” (Do

Standardized Tests Show an Accurate View of Students’ Abilities, 2017). The SAT and ACT

serve as a way to show the potential a student has to advance to any college.

On the other hand, ‘the tests do a poor job of measuring student achievement”

(Standardized Tests Do Not Effectively Measure Student Achievement, 2012). Many people

argue that making a student take a test does not define achievement. That is one of the main
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reasons why the tests are not in favor with most people. It’s basically saying that if a student

can’t excel in the standardized test they are not smart. A psychometrician, Daniel Koretz,

mentioned that scores on a standardized test, “usually do not provide a direct and complete

measure of educational achievement” (Standardized Tests Do Not Effectively Measure Student

Achievement, 2012). He gives a list of different attributes that aren’t used on standardized

testing:

“creativity

critical thinking

resilience

motivation

persistence

curiosity

endurance

reliability

enthusiasm

empathy

self-awareness

self-discipline

leadership

civic-mindedness

courage

compassion
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resourcefulness

sense of beauty

sense of wonder

honesty

integrity” (Standardized Tests Do Not Effectively Measure Student Achievement, 2012). The

argument seems true because a score wont defines a student, and these attributes will, if they

were on the tests.

How much money is put into these tests?

Standardized testing doesn’t come free. Millions of dollars have been spent on

standardized testing. Is it really worth it? Many people argue that the money should go to

something else, others agree with the expense of the tests. “The cost of statewide testing has

gone up from $19.5 million a year to $85 million a year” (Jeffery Weiss, 2015).

At the moment “Texas has a five year, $468 million contract with Pearson, a

multinational publishing company that develops prints, distributes and scores these stare-

mandated tests” (The Battle Over Standardized Testing, 2013).
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Figure 1. The figure shows statistic on how much money has been given to Pearson for

Standardized Tests since 2001 all the way to 2015.

With all this money that Texas is giving to a company like Pearson, they could’ve used

the money to classrooms that need school supplies or maintenance. Better yet, more course

objectives to be added. They also could’ve used this money to pay teachers or raise their salaries.

Conclusion

With the different pros and cons to standardized testing, this is something that will

probably never go away, unless Texas decides that they don’t need them for the school system

anymore. Although they help the student prepare for college and have some benefits, these tests
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cause too much stress on students and teachers, they are very much costly, and they are

sometimes unnecessary.
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References

Testing: Frequently Asked Questions. (2012, October 13). Retrieved March 01, 2017,
fromhttps://www2.ed.gov/nclb/accountability/ayp/testing-faq.html

Strauss, V. (2014, August 01). What do standardized tests actually test? Retrieved March
01,2017, fromhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/08/01/what-do-
standardized-tests-actually-test/?utm_term=.aaffee06213d

Do Standardized Tests Show an Accurate View of Students’ Abilities? (n.d.). Retrieved
March01, 2017, fromhttp://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/news/do-standardized-test-
show-an-accurate-view-of-students-abilities/

Officially, Texas can't say the cost of standardized tests through the decades | News. (2015,
February 16). Retrieved March 01, 2017,
fromhttp://www.dallasnews.com/news/news/2015/02/16/officially-texas-cant-say-the-cost-of-
standardized-tests-through-the-decades

Jeffrey Weiss: How Much Has Texas Spent on Standardized Testing? (2015, February 18).
Retrieved March 01, 2017, fromhttps://dianeravitch.net/2015/02/21/jeffrey-weiss-how-
much-has-texas-spent-on-standardized-testing/

Hernandez, K. (2013, June 21). The battle over standardized testing. Retrieved March 27,
2017, from http://borderzine.com/2013/06/the-battle-over-standardized-testing/