All throughout history, we have had smart people and we have had dumb people. The bell curve rings true throughout all the generations. However, a lot of the “dumb ones” aren’t so ignorant; it is just their traits are not geared around learning from a book or within a classroom setting. However, as a society that seems to value individuals and uniqueness, we get easily pissed when not all students can pass a standardized test. This is the hypocrisy of the whole thing: the higher-ups stressing we teach to the individuals, yet demanding each person test at the same level on the same evaluation. It is a battle that can’t be won in this current age. How can differences be generated and celebrated if teachers have to focus on building standardized robots?
To demand this from teachers would be the same as demanding the lawyers win every court case they take on and that doctors must have a 100 percent survival rate from all their patients, no matter what the ailment is. Maybe if the doctors and lawyers can’t meet this expectation, they should be fired and have their licenses taken away as well. Now, to say that all teachers are innocent is wrong and I think most people know that. Yes, there are bad teachers in certain classrooms on this very day, just like there are bad doctors in certain examination rooms and bad lawyers in certain courtrooms. There needs to be a weeding out of certain ones who are trying to take their profession down the tubes. Yet, I’m not sure counting up rights and wrongs from one assessment is the way to go about doing that. Quality has to be judged beyond numbers.
American education is a gem in that it offers its service to everyone, not just the rich or the elite of society. Our test scores won’t be the highest, because we test everyone, not just our above-average performers, unlike a lot of nations do. Also, a lot of those nations give up on the underachieving pupil way ahead of what we do here in the U.S. I’m not sure we ever really truly give up on an individual; of course, a lot of individuals do give up on themselves in school. In our system, numerous kids have gone from trailer park or the ghetto into the suburbs or even the mansions as a result of their schooling. So that proves it can be done. However, it wasn’t just their school that did it for them. They did it themselves. Schools can really only offer the basics in knowledge and a foundation for how to learn, and then it is up to the student to decide what to do with the service and what they can do to advance it further. Some seize it and grow abundantly; some take it and do the best they can; some take it nonchalantly and survive and actually do okay in the real world; some want to grab it but struggle, and those are ones we do need to give quality help to and not just label; and some unfortunately throw the whole thing away. Of course, out of the ones that throw it away, some are fortunately able to dig through the trash after they mature and still put it to good use. And the ones who struggle to grasp it in school may have the inner light bulb kick on after their time in the classroom. That is the beauty of humankind; we’re different and we can change. Also, it is our different gifts that we have that allow each of us to play a role and contribute to society. Are we trying to standardize certain ones away from what they could best serve us by?
To force our schools to focus on these tests rather than the individuality of their students is to twist humanity out of the institution and the people. The student becomes similar to an industrial product being manufactured on the line. The teachers are the workers, and the test is like the quality control personnel. If the students fail the test, then it means he or she didn’t meet the specs and has to be scrapped or redone.
This isn’t to say there shouldn’t be some sort of testing going on in the schools. In fact, there has been some sort of standard test taken in classrooms for a long time. It is just now, these exams have become critical to teacher and school performance records and to their careers as educators, rather than just a measuring device to show teachers, students, and parents where the child is currently at in obtaining his or her 3 R’s. Society is trying to push more numbers into the measurement of overall quality, but that is something you can’t conquer with mathematics. Good teachers that unfortunately have a class dominated by ones who struggle with school-related work or have negative home lives are going to get shoved aside, while bad teachers that happen to have an elite group of book brains are still going to appear good. We need to let those good teachers stay in their roles pressure-free so they can keep striving for those hard-to-reach youngsters. You never know about human nature. Some of the seeds the good teacher plants may not bear fruit until later in the students’ lives. They won’t magically appear on the tree during test day. Yes, we do need to focus on improving our schools, as we should constantly work to improve all of our fields of enterprise, yet if we continue what we’re doing and trying to base it all on statistics, we’re going to end up with a large quantity of nonsense and little of what we really want.