Bubbling in America's future
In 1956, Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist, classified the hierarchy of learning that is touted by educators today: At the lowest level of the scale is the memorization of facts, whereas creativity is at the highest level of learning.
Ironically, our entire educational system, from obtaining a high school diploma to entering a Ph.D. program, is built upon testing a student's lower-order thinking skills, or memorization.
Since the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001, standardized testing has been an integral part of American education. It started around 1926 when the College Board introduced the first SAT exam, a standardized test designed to assess a student's readiness for college.
In theory, the test is perfect. It gives schools and politicians tangible evidence of how well students are performing, and it allows colleges to make acceptance decisions not based on personal connections.
It seems efficient, right? If a student gets a 1,500 out of 2,400 on the SAT, the student is obviously a less viable option for a college than a student who receives a 2,200.
But let's take a closer look at these students. The first did not perform exceptionally on the SAT; however, he is an active participator in his community and school and has a 4.1 GPA. The second student performed very well on the SAT but never took an interest in school or community activities, and his overall GPA is 3.5.
Should a college prefer a student with a dedicated work ethic, like the first student, or one who remembers stuff?
Supposedly impartial, the SAT has been shown to be biased. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing says that minorities, low-income students and females perform worse on the SAT than their white male counterparts even though the females got better results in high school and college.
Hansol Park, an immigrant from South Korea who is now a senior at Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts, decried the SAT because he believes it does not "evaluate a student's academic abilities and potential."
The multiple-choice questions are designed to test memory, not intellect or creativity. This is why American education is so focused on throwing out so many facts that teachers are forced to neglect all material that standardized tests do not include. As a result, teachers must merely teach to the test and students become drones that can only memorize and regurgitate facts.
Julia Jacob, a senior looking to go to college who is active in the community, does not consider her SAT score to be a true representation of her skill. "A college looking at my score might not see me as an asset to their school; however, my 4.0 GPA sends an entirely different message," she said.
Most of my peers and teachers do not believe that standardized tests evaluate a student's cognitive potential. Izanie Love worries about her SAT scores affecting her college entrance. "I personally didn't do well on them, but I have done well GPA-wise, and now my scores are hindering my chances of being accepted into the college I want to go to."
Certainly, high stakes are involved — for the students and colleges they get into, for the teachers and their evaluations and for the schools and their funding. This is why standardized testing is now referred to as "high-stakes testing." A 2009 investigation discovered 44 schools cheated on the state's standardized tests in Atlanta, and in Florida, schools pay their students for good scores on state tests.
Marion Brady, educator and author of "What's Worth Learning?" said, "When a country bases its education system around standardized tests, it's a recipe for catastrophe."
In this new age of technology and collaboration, we are in a perfect position to think outside the box, so why does America insist on bubbling its students into it?
Natalie Landau is a senior at Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.