Target: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam
Goal: Reassess the role of standardized testing, which causes undue anxiety to students and can misrepresent overall ability.
Hailed as a benchmark of a child’s education, standardized testing aims to show what students have learned over the course of a year in a variety of subjects. But the recent increase in the number and rigor of tests has caused undue stress on students. According to psychology studies performed at University of Hartford, elementary school students have reported feeling anxiety around test times, with 11 percent of students experiencing “severe” physical and emotional responses related to testing.
These students face being held back from courses at an early age. Relying on standardized testing to make those assessments could be detrimental to children long-term. Some students do not test well and their confidence and love of learning could be shattered because of too-stringent testing procedures.
Standardized testing also cuts into valuable teaching time. Teachers must teach according to what they believe will be on the test, which leaves little room for creative learning or lessons that are important, but do not appear in the curriculum. There is additional classroom time set aside to remind students how to fill out answer sheets and test taking strategies.
Parents throughout Tennessee are allowing their children to opt out of exams, eliminating the pressure children feel and encouraging the state to take another look at the role of standardized testing both in and outside of the classroom. Encourage Governor Haslam to prioritize childhood anxiety and valuable teaching time by re-evaluating Tennessee’s standardized testing program.
Dear Governor Haslam,
Standardized testing in schools is negatively affecting our children’s wellness and the value of education.
Nearly every child nationwide sits down to a variety of rigorous tests each spring to identify what he or she has learned over the past year. These children understand the stakes — the threat of being “held back” if he or she does not score well. This knowledge can put undue stress on children as early as third grade — a time when students should feel empowered to learn and grow. These negative experiences have the ability to stunt a student’s academic career long-term.
Teachers, instead of having the freedom to teach what they feel is important, are forced to base their year-long curriculum on what will be on the end-of-year tests. This leaves little room to encourage their students to get creative, delve more deeply into subjects, or have discussions about topics that are educational, but simply will not be on the test. Each year, teachers must also set aside valuable classroom time to discuss test formats, how to fill out answer sheets and test-taking strategies. This time would be better spent encouraging students to learn with the goal of a broad education, and not bowing to the standards of a state-given test.
It’s time to put the priority on a rewarding, well-rounded educational experience for our children. Please re-evaluate Tennessee’s standardized testing program in order to reduce undue stress and anxiety for our children and teachers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Cpl. Khalil Ross