Carmen Puchulu, Columnist

 

Recently, President Obama called for a cap on standardized tests, saying that they shouldn’t take more than two percent of a student’s time.

It is about time that we started looking into changing standardized testing. Schooling has become a prep-place for tests, which is plain awful. Tests not only destroy creativity of students, but they also kill the fun of learning.

Let’s look at creativity first. How are students supposed to expand their creativity when they are sitting around filling in little bubbles to mark their answers? And I’m not solely talking about the arts either. Creativity comes in many different ways, even in subjects such as math.

It takes a certain kind of creativity to find a way to solve a problem. Testing takes that creativity away with prompts such as, “Solve the problem in this particular way.” It might not even be the best way to solve the problem either. Marking kids wrong for getting the right answer but using a different method discourages kids from finding better ways of solving problems.

It does not teach them how to be independent. What it does teach kids is that there is a right answer to everything, even though that is not true.

One of the best ways to learn is through discovery – going out and figuring out the world. Through this method, what a person finds out actually means something to them. And what the person learns sticks better this way.

By having kids learn solely through constant studying for tests, it does not stick with them because the information does not mean anything to them. They only learn it enough to pass the test.

That does not settle in the long term memory unless the student already had an interest in the subject in question.

With tests, you only get one chance to find the right answer – not much room for error, or creativity.

By limiting the standardized testing down to two percent of a student’s time, schools across the United States are going to have to change their curriculums since they are all built around testing. It is possible that they will all look very different from state to state, even school from school.

Hopefully, the curriculums will be better for student learning (the long term kind of learning). No doubt the process of changing the school system will take a while, but the good thing is that there is now conversation about it. The first step towards fixing any problem is by talking about it.