I have a bone to pick with the U.S. education system. I’m not writing this because I’m currently in school because quite frankly, school allowed me the opportunities I currently have. I’m writing this because for the majority of American students, they are performing well below international standards despite our government spending a pretty good percentage of money on education. I don’t see this as some revolutionary statement either because these past few years, even politicians have acknowledged the flaw with the U.S. school system. However, nobody really knows the root of the problem. If I could sum up the problem with a simple picture, it would have to be this:
Yes, I believe standardized testing is what’s ruining America’s domestic education. Once again, I am not saying that standardized tests are inherently bad. After all, they provide a benchmark to measure how much knowledge you’ve gleaned in your formative education years. However, it is a problem that schools are revolving their lesson plans around tests because the last time I checked, school was a place of learning, not training for a standardized test.
Think back to your school years, particularly in high school and college. When and how did you learn the most? It was never when you were cramming for a test. Rather, those best times of learning were when you were either doing reading for homework or having a class discussion. This is not an accident. Discussion allows your brain to work out knowledge in a way that is applicable to your daily life. Reading has a similar function because you’re absorbing information at your own pace. My freshman year of college, I had a teacher who did not give homework and did not give tests. All we did was discuss the material in class. At first, I thought that was going to be a class that I would never remember and that I would blow off for an easy A, but for the first time in my whole school career, I retained the entirety of the subject material even now after multiple semesters removed. Something needs to change.
There needs to be a complete paradigm shift in America’s education-away from standardized testing and more towards discussion. Obviously, with math and science classes, discussion does not always fit, but the equivalent of class discussion in those classes would just be practicing problems. I’ve found the most egregious crimes against education occur in math and science classes. More often than not, teachers are pushed to reach a certain chapter instead of being pushed to make sure every student understands the material.
I understand that for public schools their funding is tied to standardized test scores, but I sincerely believe that if the government and schools focused on students retaining the material and developing knowledge, they could still do a cumulative standardized test at the end of their respective high school and college years, but the results would be greatly improved. It’s easier to learn when you don’t have to worry about if each sentence you hear in class is going to be on the test or not.