Sample Thesis Paper on Standardized Tests in the United States’ Schools

Rationale

Purpose

The purpose of my presentation is to inform my audience about the adverse impacts of standardized testing in our education system. I am also aiming at persuading my audience to shun the use of standardized tests in schools in the United States. Standardized tests are rooted in the No Child is Left Behind (NCLB) Act. This act mandates all public schools to administer a standard examination that tests learners’ achievement in science, Mathematics, and Reading. Though the motive behind the tests was good, they are impacting negatively on our education system. Therefore, my presentation is aimed at informing my audience to stop the use of standardized tests and persuade them to opt for other alternatives.

Audience

My ideal audience is composed of all education stakeholders. The audience may include parents, educationists, teachers, school administrators, lawmakers, politicians, and any other individual who plays a role in the development of education policies. All leaders at all levels of government are part of my audience.

Significance

This is a very significant topic since the continued use of standardized tests in schools in the United States has far-reaching consequences in the education system. Standardized tests affect pupils, teachers, and the school directly. The quality of education being offered in schools is deteriorating, and soon the education system will be churning out half-baked graduates. Moreover, standardized tests have escalated the cost of education, yet they are not improving the quality of education. The high rising cost of education due to standardized tests has a direct impact on the taxpayer. There is a need to formulate better education policies and stop using standardized tests.

Presentation plan

Introduction

Audience hook. In 2001, before the NCLB act, the cost of testing was approximately $423 million. However, due to the mandatory standardized tests, the combined cost of testing in all the states had reached $ 1.1 billion in 2008 (Top education degrees, 2016).

Thesis. “Research suggests that standardized tests should not be administered in schools because the tests have shown biases that disadvantage learners and educators are focusing on posting good performance at the expense of teaching and learning.”

Preview of the main points
  1. Standardized tests escalate cheating and other academic irregularities in schools
  2. The tests have biases and may disadvantage some learners
  • Standardized tests do not consider external factors during the examination
  1. The tests lack reliability, objectivity, and validity
  2. Standardized tests do not examine the overall growth of the learner
  3. Standardized tests lead to a narrowed curriculum
Support for the main points.

Due to the pressure to post good performances in the tests, students are forced to cheat in the examination to please their parents and teachers. On the other hand, since schools are expected to improve always in the standardized examinations, teachers tamper with the scores since their jobs and school funding is pegged to performance (Bhattacharyya et al., 2013).

Additionally, the standardized tests have immense biases and do not take equal care for all the examinees.  Bhattacharyya et al. (2013) are of the view that the tests disadvantage learners from non-English speaking backgrounds, poor families, and the disabled. The tests do not treat races, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic status equally (Özturgut, 2011).

Fig 1: Comparison of biased test scores across the different socio-economic backgrounds

Source: New York Times

During the administration of the test, external factors are not considered. However, according to Bhattacharyya et al. (2013), the performance of a test is dependent on the psychological and emotional state of the test-taker. Thus, the scores in such a test may not be a true reflection of the student’s level of achievement.

The standardized test cannot measure accurately what the learner has attained. Moreover, tests cannot give the same results anytime they are administered. Thus, they are not reliable. The unreliability and invalidity of the standardized test are attributable to their dependence on the student’s physical, mental and emotional states during the test.

According to Cronau and Brown (1998), a learner’s growth in school is not just in academics. They also grow in other aspects such as physical, emotional, mental, and psychological. However, standardized tests lack the capacity to measure these aspects.

Curriculum designers aimed at students’ achievement being more than just performance in tests. However, with the need to perform on the standardized tests, teachers have narrowed the curriculum; they “teach to the test.” According to Moxey (2005), teaching to the test leads to rote learning. Graduates are not well equipped with life skills.

Conclusion

Evidently, despite being a requirement of NCLB, standardized tests have a myriad of demerits and, thus, should not be administered in schools. These tests not only lack reliability but are also invalid. These are biased tests that are not fit for use in the schools in the United States. Due to too much pressure to perform well on the tests, teachers have resulted in coaching students for the tests instead of teaching which has narrowed the curriculum. Moreover, the standardized tests are insensitive to external factors during the examinations, do not examine the wholesome growth of the learner, and have increased cheating in education institutions. It is high time that the use of standardized tests is vacated, and an alternative is sought. A cost-benefit analysis needs to be done to decide whether the standardized tests are serving the purpose they were intended for. Hypothetically, the costs of standardized testing will outweigh the benefits, which warrant the elimination of standardized tests from schools in the U.S.

Scripted Audience Questions
  1. Are the standardized tests not good because they guide the teacher on the content to teach?

Answer: Teachers should not rely on tests for guidance. They should be guided by the syllabus and the schemes of work.

  1. What are the available alternatives to the standardized testing approach?

Answer: Due to the disadvantages of standardized testing, other approaches such as curriculum-based assessments, dynamic assessments, and portfolio-based assessments can be adopted.

  1. Can a standardized test be classified as a high stake test?

Answer: Yes, a standardized test is a high-stake test since its consequences are crucial for the individual taking the test.

 

References

Bhattacharyya, S., Junot, M., & Clark, H. (2013). Can you hear us? voices raised against standardized testing by novice teachers. Creative Education, 4(10), 633-639.

Cronau, H., & Brown, R. T. (1998). Growth and development: physical, mental, and social aspects. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice25(1), 23-45.

Moxey, T. (2005). How I learned to stop worrying and love standardized testing.English Journal, 94(4), 16-17.

Özturgut, O. (2011). Standardized testing in the case of China and the lessons to be learned for the U.S. Journal of International Education Research, 7(2), 1.

Rampell, C. (2009). SAT scores and family income. The New York Times.

Top education degrees (2016). To test or not to test: Questions on standardized testing.