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Student Opinions on Standardized Testing The Case of NJASK.

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1 Student Opinions on Standardized Testing The Case of NJASK

2 Overview of the Topic Standardized testing such as the NJASK tests has been implemented in many states following the No Child Left Behind Act. This study conducts an analysis of student responses to standardized testing on the basis of questionnaires that were administered to fifteen students.

3 Questionnaire 1. Do you think standardized tests are important? 2. What do you find the most difficult about facing an examination? 3. Do you feel anxious or worried right before you take an exam? 4. Out of all the activities that you perform in school, how important do you think exams are? Rate your opinion on a scale of one (not important at all) to ten (the most important activity that you do on in school). 5. Are you afraid of what your parents will say if you get a low score on your tests? 6. Are you worried about what your teacher will say to you if you do badly on your test? 7. How much do you care about getting a good grade? Rate your answer on a scale of one (don’t care at all) to ten (you think about it all the time). 8. Can you sleep well the night before a big test?

4 Questionnaire cont. 9. Do you think standardized tests are necessary? 10. Do you think too much importance is placed on standardized tests 11. During testing do you often feel like even though you know the subject matter well, your mind seems a blank at the moment? 12. Do you feel these tests put you in competition with other students ? 13. Do you feel upset or jealous if your friend scores better than you on a test? 14. If you could change one thing about the NJASK what would it be?

5 Through my questionnaires I reinforced my belief that the needs of individual learners need to be prioritized, instead of attempting to create a system where the learners are forced to conform to a uniform system of learning that does not acknowledge their individual needs. Without this individualized attention we are causing them unneeded stress and setting them up to fail.

6 The primary question I wanted answered was: does the standardization of methods and examination systems result in an increase or decrease in the levels of student performance?

7 My analysis followed a structure of identifying problems based on student responses to the questionnaire, proposing solutions based my reading, and my own understanding, developed on the basis of what I have experience in my classroom placements.

8 Analysis of Findings (cont.) Significantly, 75% of the students who took the survey answered “yes” to the question, “During an exam, do you often feel like even though you know the subject matter well, your mind seems a blank at the moment?” This seems to indicate that among the pressures of standardized testing is the compulsion to learn by rote, which many students either find difficult, or which they feel is unnecessary. Many of the students responded by saying that they would not care about grades if good test scores did not matter to other people, including teachers, parents and peers. One child was concerned that she would be “laughed” at by her classmates if she got a bad grade. As Tomlinson writes: “squeezing students into a one-size-fits-all curriculum has left many behind.” (Tomlinson 2002, p. 24).

9 Also of importance is the finding that 80% of the students surveyed felt that they would not do away with tests even if they had the choice; perhaps because the direct correlation between good scores and college education—ultimately, the necessity to obtain a secure future—makes it unimaginable for students to perceive of coursework other than from the examination point of view. Tomlinson makes the significant observation that the processes of assessment and methodology process are reliant not merely on the level of learning that students display, but also on the diversity of the various settings in which learning is imparted.

10 Influencing Change A more practical solution seems to be to implement testing that is carried out in segments over the course of an academic semester, which will reduce the burden on the teacher as well as the student.

11 Influencing Change (cont.) Tiered Assignments may be used by teachers to ensure that different students take different kinds of learning away from a lesson on a particular topic Tiered assignments are assignments that take into account the fact that different learners may utilize different skills. For example, if students are learning about features of a country’s geography, children who are more inclined towards creative thinking or handwork may be asked to create charts or models. Those with an analytical bent of mind may be asked to construct tables or gather statistics about the topic.

12 Influencing Change (cont.) Independent Study is also an important module in classroom differentiation. Since every student’s learning objectives cannot be fulfilled within the classroom due to constraints of time and space, the teacher can present guidelines to students encouraging independent study, by setting take-home projects or library assignments in such a manner that the student can work individually.

13 Influencing Change (cont.) Compacting is another process which can be used. It allows students to highlight their proficiency in subjects through their separate skills. It is a system of evaluation which takes into account students’ various skills and learning abilities.

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