The government of the United States of America is charged with among other roles the responsibility to ensure that its citizens receive adequate services. Such include good health care and education. Special emphasis has been to these two sectors since they are the backbone of the economy. Provision of quality education to students makes the country achieve significant progress. This is because when people study they are able to get jobs and thus become independent. This further ensures that poverty is eradicated before it takes a toll on the nation. The educated group of citizens also contributes to nation building through useful engagements other than engaging in malicious activities such as theft. They are able to provide labor in the various sectors; both government and private.
Federal Initiatives relating to testing
It is for this reason that the government initiates certain decisions and policies which directly affect testing in education in the U.S.A. Testing is important because it defines the student’s level of understanding of a particular matter. The government has initiated policies to this effect since it is a sensitive matter that requires care when being administered. Testing has both advantages and disadvantages. Such initiatives include the No Child Left Behind initiative, adequate yearly progress and FCAT in Florida (Wilberforce, 2005).
The No Child Left Behind Act
The no child left behind initiative that came to place through an act of the congress. The initiative upholds that high standards be established so as to establish quality education delivered to students. The initiative has seen increased funding go towards education. The initiative further maintains that adequate yearly progress be performed on the students in the course of their education. This refers to the use of standardized tests which are then used to determine how every school performs.
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is yet another initiative aimed towards helping boost performance in schools. The Bureau of K-12 Assessment is responsible for the assessment of students using these tests. These assessments provide useful information about students learning in Florid. This is as required by law (Wilberforce, 2004).
Adequate yearly progress
This is a measurement by the United states Department of Education. It analyzes how every public school and school district performs. This is done through administration of certain tests which are standardized. Private schools however do not conduct adequate yearly progress
Policies to incorporate the admission tests
These are tests used in the process of admission at elite/ private school. It also includes admission to colleges and universities. These are used as a prediction on how likely a student is to succeed in academics.
The National assessment of Education progress policies
This is an assessment carried out at national level and is used to find out the level of development of a student n his progress academically. This assessment is important since it gives statistics to the government and other stake holders in how the students are performing academically.
Elementary and Secondary Education Test
This amendment was made in 1988. This test is issued to students to test their ability academically when placed on the same conditions. All students therefore take the same test.
General Education development test policies.
This test is developed by the American Council on Education. The test is done by students as individuals. A certificate is issued to graduands to this effect.
California Achievement Admission Test legislations
These legislations led to the establishment of the National standardized examination for grades K-12. It tests the achievements of a student. The service is available all year round.
Negative Impact of Testing on Learning in the Classroom
Testing is known to have certain disastrous effects on students and schools generally. The students may for example suffer emotionally when preparing for examinations. This is because tests are used to gauge a student’s ability and his or her understanding of scope. This makes the student feel anxious and at times suffer from fear of failure. The student certainly knows that by failing that examination, he will not proceed to the next level and may suffer scorn. The feeling of fear and emotional insecurity is worse during the examination period. Cases have been reported in the past of students who faint in the examination room as they sit for their examinations. This depicts a feeling of fear in the student (Watson, 2011).
The method of testing students is in itself not sufficient. Using testing as a method of condemning a student to fate is not sufficient at all. If we take an example of a student who has all the years been good academically then he or she fails to perform in the last exam, it is unfair to say that the student is not fit to proceed in the next level. The parameters of measuring his or her ability in this case can only be termed as flawed and without basis. It is important that a different method be used other than just administering tests otherwise the real meaning of education will fade away sooner than later (Luckzak, 2005).
The method of testing also encourages cramming among students. Students read voraciously putting a lot of effort and spending time in the library just to pass exams. The true meaning of education is lost whereby it is supposed to produce all rounded students who can work with results. Students who cram to pass examinations therefore get it wrong because they lose out on important bits. Such is what would have made that student to be among the top professionals who can possibly be there.
Testing is also insufficient since teachers teach to the test. Teachers want their students to pass examinations not because they want them to fit in their profession well but because they want them glory to come back to them (teachers). This makes testing lose the meaning it was intended for since teachers end up leaking the exam to the students and some even teaching it in class. The process of leaking examinations to students and them being given the same examination is actually a contravention of ethics. Teachers who leak tests to the students do it oblivious of the fact that these students are becoming wasted. Standards of unfairness are at times also exercised by teachers in the process of marking. Some teachers intentionally fail students in their exams simply because they failed to conform to a favor they possibly wanted. This again makes testing lose the intended meaning. Such students end up failing not because they are poor in that particular area but because the teacher felt they should not pass that particular exam ( Afflerbach, 2007).
How Testing Influences School Funding
Tests are also used by schools as a means of extorting money. They charge very high examination fees to cater for the tests and thus end up exploiting parents. The method has therefore faced a lot of opposition from parents who feel it is a petty fraudulent scheme. To add salt into injury the money received is sometimes not properly accounted for (Paul Watson, 2011)
The schools are supposed to administer test which will depict how the students have been performing. The government then uses this analysis to determine how much it will give to schools. Where improvements are not made, the schools receive reduced funds. They are also given alternative punishments which make the people concerned to be more accountable.
Testing as a disadvantage to non-performing schools
The method of testing also discourages schools that fail to do well. This is because the schools feel they are being sidelined in terms of performance. This is especially so where the performance of different schools compared. The performance index of different schools is compared and ranking is done accordingly. This may discourage the schools at the bottom while the students feel like they are not good enough (Pearson, 2001).
Effect of testing on teachers
Testing gives undue pressure to the teachers who are required to mark and give timely reports. A class that does not do well in the tests may also demotivate the teacher who may feel like he or she did not teach well. This could however not be the reason why the students did not perform well. They probably did not do their part. The teacher may however be blamed by the school administration for the poor performance (Pearson, 2001).
Testing is also a disadvantage in the sense that it leads to less funding to poorly performing schools. Such schools appear as if they have been sidelined which is often interpreted as unfair to them.
Effect of Testing on parents
Testing may have certain effects on parents. For the students who fail to do well, their parents may feel the students did not put in as much effort as required. Some may go to the extent of punishing their sons and daughters in schools while others may feel they are wasting money paying for school fees. Wrangles are common between children and their parents over poor performance while in school.
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