The American education system has reached its limits in creating an ineffective system: standardized testing for kindergarteners.
According to the New York Daily News, because of new state standards and more intensive evaluations of teachers, some 4 and 5-year-olds living in New York City are taking Common Core standardized math tests.
The administered tests have gone about as well as you’d expect. Teachers have complained that the students are having trouble taking a multiple-choice test since they have not even learned how to write or count properly. For these tests, which require them to associate numbers and images, kids must use No. 2 pencils compared to the crayons or markers that they are accustomed to.
Proponents say that the material kindergarteners are tested on is important. The testing, however, makes an assessment of skills that these children haven’t even had a chance to develop.
Knowing what the right answer to a math question is does not teach someone how to discern a mathematical problem, it merely teaches them what the right answer is, rather than the method it takes to get there.
Madhabi Chatterji, an associate professor and director of the Assessment and Evaluation Research Initiative at Columbia University, said having assessments at this age assumes children have fully developed skills. If there must be an evaluation, it should be on how a child functions typically and naturally.
A standardized test does not demonstrate children’s ability to be creative, how they approach logical puzzles or abstract concepts or if they’re developing practical scientific skills. Students have to learn by experience, not just through testing.
Compared to what the state would like to believe, kindergarteners are not fully developed test-takers. Kids interacting with other students develop social skills and situational problem-solving capabilities. Allowing them to play with blocks gives them their first introduction to basic geometry. Allowing a growing mind to learn and discover not only creates a strong student but also a student better prepared for the real world.
Standardized testing is not in the best interest of the students. Testing and teacher evaluations factor into federal and state funding. It does not directly focus on students’ readiness for a college degree and functioning in the workforce.
For many of the schools incorporating this kindergarten testing, the only means of getting more funding is through high standardized test performance.
Unfortunately, because of this, they are forced to strip down the overall curriculum since other subjects are now irrelevant. It was bad enough to take away recess at some schools, but now even subjects such as history, art and the sciences have progressively become diminished as schools change in accordance with the tests (which are corporate funded and state approved, meaning they’re subject to any ulterior bias associated with those entities).
The schools aren’t entirely at fault. The problem is the way the system is set up. Schools have to focus all of their energy on doing well on the tests so they can stay funded and allow teachers to keep their jobs.
The country’s education has turned into an assembly line through its reliance on standardized testing. By focusing so much on standardized testing, students young and old are missing out on developing actual intellectual initiative.
Introducing testing at such a young age is more detrimental than it is beneficial. It is molding students to study in a way that might give them the correct answer, but doesn’t encourage them to understand the process behind it.
Robert Calcagano is a graduate student majoring in animation.
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