Standardized tests are, for better or for worse, a hugely important part of the educational process. Unfortunately, there is a history of problems within the system and recent events have shown deficiencies in the New York state grade school standardized tests. Some exams, such as the eight grade English Language Arts exam, had strange questions with no real answers; others, such as the fourth grade New York State Math Exam had two correct answers, but teachers were told to tell this to students only if they specifically asked.
Elizabeth Phillips, principal of PS 321, sent a letter of complaint to the New York State education commissioner about unfit questions she has seen on New York standardized tests. She highlighted problematic questions on these exams and also explained the heavy importance of these tests for not only the students, but the teachers as well—“The idea that teachers may lose their jobs and schools (at least in New York City) may be closed based on how children do on these problematic exams is incredibly upsetting and demoralizing to educators…I hope that you will consider recommending to the State Legislature that given the flaws in the tests, we are not yet ready to use them for high stakes decision making.”
Some point to Pearson, the company that creates these tests, as the root of the faulty exams. According to Diane Ravitch, an education professor at NYU, these standardized exams are quite pricey. States like Texas that have bigger budgets and are able to pay some $500 million get tests with new, high-quality questions. Smaller states like New York, however, who don’t have as large of a budget, tend to receive older recycled questions, some of which may have appeared on old tests and have already been pinpointed as flawed. A recent article in the Washington Post elaborates on Pearson’s strategy in creating these standardized tests, explaining profit as a driving force behind distributing questions on different state exams.
Written by: Editorial Team, My Learning Springboard, Inc.