Lashana Harney: Test-taking, not learning, key education goal

April 18, 2014 

Lashana Harney is editor of Bourbon County High School's newspaper.

By Lashana Harney

We students are more than our test scores.

Many schools across the country, in fear of losing funding, become all about the numbers and will do anything to get their students to pass a standardized test. Schools are obsessing over standardized testing, and students are anxiously preparing instead of receiving a proper education.

While measurements of success are an important part of an education system, punishing teachers, schools and students for not producing adequate test scores is simply unacceptable.

Education is supposed to be about personal growth, building intellect and preparing for reality. We are robbed of this experience. Teaching and learning — not testing — should drive classroom instruction so that we can have the rich and meaningful public education we deserve.

Schools are putting students onto a factory line, stamping us with ACT/SAT strategies, and essentially dumping us into a quiet room with pencils to fill out exams. This negative reinforcement only robs students of the purpose of education.

Students dread standardized tests and dread attending school. Schools are supposed to produce positive, educated future adults, not cynical, unprepared citizens.

What happened to the idea of learning being fun? Posters plastered along school walls tell us this but, for most students, learning is just something we have to endure, because test-taking strategies seem to be the only important subject.

The ACT may determine scholarship eligibility, but will it help me get a job? How many job applications have a spot for you to insert your best ACT score? Tests are often unreliable indicators of student performance, yet teachers must waste their time focusing on acing these tests. Depending on a student's learning style, a portfolio or a project might be the best way to measure academic growth, but these activities are being forgotten.

Ten years from now, those test strategies we learn will be of no use, and many hours of our education will have been for nothing. Maybe we should focus less on test scores and more on creating future leaders.

As poet Maya Angelou said: "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel."

And that's the thing. How we students feel about our own educations never seems to be a question on those tests.

Perhaps, it's because the answer can't be taught.

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