Testing the limits

State-mandated tests limit curriculum for teachers, students

Testing the limits

Photo by: Miranda Duncan

Story by: Miranda Duncan, Copy Editor

In core curriculum classes (math, science, English and history), teachers plan their lessons based on preparing their students for state-required tests at the end of the year. The Texas State Board of Education should stop requiring the distribution of standardized tests to ensure students gain an expansive and personalized education.

State mandated tests disadvantage many students because of their one-size-fits-all policy. Students in special education classes and L-level courses can struggle to meet standards, while upper-level students often take district progress monitoring (DPM) exams tailored for L-level students who learn a completely different curriculum. The tests increase the stress and confusion for teachers and students who struggle to meet testing standards that do not match the curriculum learned in their specific programs.

The state mandated tests do not cover much of the information taught in classes. Some supporters of state testing argue that the tests offer a comprehensive way to measure how well students retain classroom information. However, the state board does not include teachers in its staff, which makes determining which concepts actual classrooms cover more difficult.

After spending the year focusing on and learning a curriculum that works towards state tests, when the testing period completes, student motivation to continue work in their classes decreases. Not only do students lose grade points, but teachers must also work harder to keep students active in class, and with important finals just after, students cannot afford to lose their work ethic. The pressure to pass the state tests and maintain their grades, along with taking finals and AP exams in such a short period of time, often leaves students stressed and overworked.

While certain seniors can graduate through rare permission from the Individual Graduation Committee after passing three out of five EOC exams, the state should stop distributing the universalized tests altogether, and instead let individual schools decide the proper measurements for determining student comprehension of classes in order to keep teachers and students an active part of an individualized education system.