The current state of public education in America is embarrassing. Local school boards and state and federal officials are clamoring to find solutions, and they almost always involve standardized testing. Many times, these tests are not just used to measure student outcomes, but also are linked to punitive actions taken against teachers and schools where students fall below average. Unfortunately, by definition, a standardized test is designed to measure students against each other, and there will always be those who fall below average. Not surprisingly, the schools that tend to fall below average are also those in low-income, high-crime areas where a myriad of other factors outside of a teacher’s control affect student success.
In this address to a Florida school board, Sydney Smoot shares her concerns about the Florida State Assessment. Although she is only in the fourth grade, she brings up some very valid concerns. If the purpose of the test is to measure student learning, then progressive testing would be a better measurement than a single snap shot. She also touches on the idea of undue stress placed in the classroom due to a single test. In some classrooms, the pressure to have students “pass” the standardized test has forced teachers to forgo regular teaching lessons and focus on test-taking skills.