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Resolved: On balance, standardized testing is beneficial to K-12 education in the United States

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2015 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,006 times Debate No: 84249
Debate Rounds (4)
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On the mark: is standardized testing good for education? Hoffman 99, Today's Parents

Something has changed. For years we were content to sail along, secure in the belief that Canada had one of the world's best education systems. We looked around at our literate, economically successful democracy and thought, "We must be doing a good job of educating." But, at some point, that belief began to crumble. Maybe it was a reaction to more holistic education approaches introduced in the 1960s, and a growing perception that our schools turn out graduates who lack basic skills. Maybe it's because the most educated adult population in history has higher expectations of schools. Perhaps it's our shrinking global society. We know much more than we used to about what Japanese, German and American children learn in school. Do they learn times tables a grade earlier than our kids? Will that make them better software designers and widget-makers as adults?

Whatever the reason, we increasingly look to Standardized tests to see if our schools measure up -- seven of ten Canadian provinces, as well as the Yukon Territory, now have some form of regular testing , usually beginning in grade three or four. Greg Gribbon of Bradford, Ontario welcomes this trend. He wants testing to confirm what his six- and eight-year-old daughters are learning and to tell him whether the school is doing its job. For Gribbon, report cards and classroom marks aren't enough. "I've heard too many stories from parents who were told that their child was doing fine, only to find out in grade three and grade four that he couldn't read."
So, what's a good test? "It must have both validity and reliability," says David Ireland, a retired manager of research and evaluation for the former Carleton Board of Education in eastern Ontario. Validity means the test measures what you want it to measure -- for example, basic math skills. Reliability means that the same child would get the same result from one week to the next, no matter who was doing the marking.

Get Congress out of standardized testing
Tribune 11

Standardized testing is good for assessing the progress of a child's education and determining where to go next. That is, if the test is a diagnosis-type test. However, standardized testing -- the types done to comply with NCLB -- is seriously flawed. These tests aim to determine how a classroom, a school or a district stands in educating children. They are flawed partially because they encourage schools to teach to the test and partially because they fail to consider the contribution parents make or, more pointedly, fail to make. Teaching to the test only builds memorization skills, rather than understanding context, opinions and social aspects.

Data gathered from the survey reveal important information about the impact of testing.
Klein Zevenbergen Brown 06 Klein, School of Education Zevenbergen, Department of Psychology Brown,Student Personnel Administrator

This paper explores how teachers manage standardized testing in schools. A survey was distributed among 20 elementary, middle, and high school teachers in a semi-rural community of Western New York. The data gathered from the survey responses reveal important information about the impact of testing on teaching. Standardized testing affects many of the teachers' focus on instruction. In many cases, teachers prepare their students year-round. Teachers provide test-related, preparative instruction, which governs most of their curricula. A few teachers admit that testing allows them to develop more focused teaching experiences for their students. Insights gleaned from this research study reveal the need to address the many challenges teachers encounter related to standardized testing.


Contention 1. Standardised testing is racist.

Doctor Harold Berlak, an independent researcher and professor at Washington University finds
  • Standardized testing perpetuates institutionalized racism and contributes to the achievement gap between whites and minorities. For instance, the deeply embedded stereotype that African Americans perform poorly on standardized tests hinders many African Americans’ testing ability. Also, research has shown that minorities statistically have lower standardized test scores than whites because of existing, hidden biases in the development and administration of standardized tests and interpretation of their scores. Therefore, the achievement gap will not begin to close until current standards and assessment tests are significantly reformed ... Even when parents’ income and wealth is comparable, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and immigrants for whom English is not a first language lag behind English speaking, native-born, white students.
Nowile M. Rooks of Time Magazine in October 2012 finds
  • Today, as an acknowledgment of the inherent racial and economic inequity of standardized achievement tests, hundreds of colleges have already stopped requiring the SAT for college admission decisions. However, the same cannot be said for k-12, where scores on achievement tests are in part used for everything from admitting students to prestigious public schools to placing students in gifted or remedial programs, allocating federal funding, and even evaluating teachers.
Nowile continues
  • The recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education pointing out that black and Latino students in New York score below whites and Asians on standardized tests so consistently that although they are almost 70% of the overall student body, they are only 11% of students enrolled at elite public schools. As a result, the complaint argues that New York City is in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because schools rely on a test that advantages one racial group over another.

The system in which we are debating is inherently racist and biased against 1 people of color and 2 those that are non-english speaking. We can’t say that the system in which we are operating benefits education no matter what, unless we are trying to defend a racist system that attacks people for being themselves and not being what color of skin the test-makers want them to be.

C2. Standardised testing is opening the door for eugenics.

Joshua Cook in 2013 of the Freedom Outpost writes that standardised tests as of now are perhaps the scariest way to mine for data of the American future. He writes that having this data collected and mined, perhaps sold to companies for school profits when schools can barely balance their own budget due to systemic racism and redlining, is a way of measuring intelligence (and we think that our opponents will agree with us to this point).

However, as John Loflin of the Education Community-Action Team in April 2013 writes , if history has taught us anything, having a massive database of the intelligence of the American future is beyond harmful or just ‘bad’ - it is outright amoral. US history has taught us that when the draft goes into place, the US government will first pick those that have low test scores or low intelligences to serve in the war so that they die - and an American ‘utopia’ is restored with only complete European descendents being alive and running the country. This is the very definition of eugenics - which is trying to keep those that are undesirable from reproducing (they can’t have children if they die in foreign combat). And if we look to the way that we looked onto Hitler’s actions of eugenics in Germany in world war two, we see that we can’t set up a system that allows for this to happen.

Further, Loflin explains, there are people that are in charge of the US military drafting service that are in favor of eugenics and ‘weeding out undesirables’ from the mainstream - though they do not say it in this same language, the intentions are the same as what we are saying they think to be true.

We cannot stand here and defend a system that is by its very core racist - so far racist as to have eugenics a full possibility due to the way that standardised testing is set up as of now. We can only see a negative ballot with all things considered, thank you.

Debate Round No. 1


you are saying that standardized testing is racist but to me I don't think it is. I believe that when someone is grading your standardized test that they do not know who you are. They don't know anything about you except for how old you are and what grade and academic level you are at. I have evidence stating that standardized testing is not racist.

Standardized Tests Are’t Racist: How Brown Kids Can Ace the Test to Get Into New York’s Stuyvesant McWhorter 14

we see what is felt with breezily accepted notions such as the idea that black kids can’t do math, or the idea of the NAACP—arguing for the advancement of colored people—intoning that because black and Latino kids don’t pass the test much, the test is racist.

Yet the way this is discussed and written about, you’d assume that the reasoning has already long been laid out. Is it the moral thing to exempt black and Latino kids from the serious competition we consider a normal part of life for all other children, instead of making an effort to prepare them for it? That’s a peculiar and, at least to me, counter intuitive proposition.

1964: We demand to be treated as equals. 2014: We object that we cannot be subject to serious competition until society is something close to perfect—and roll our eyes at anyone who does’t “get it.”

But what we need to “get” is that insisting that black and Latino kids can’t be taught to ace tests is, itself, racist. Or, at least, that is a perfectly fair assumption until we have a less coded discourse about the matter.

Otherwise, it comes down to this: If racist underestimation is what brown kids need to succeed, we are faced with a truly novel take on what civil rights, justice, and morality are.

You also said that our data is collected and mined, perhaps sold to companies for school profits. You you never gave any specific evidence that they are doing that what your data. Counting with your sold to companies argument. You said that they sell it to schools when they can barely balance their own budget due to systemic racism. But selling your data had nothing to do with racism. Your evidence is also from 2013 and if i'm correct its 2015 almost 2016. So your evidence is invalid because that is from almost 3 years ago.



In this round I will be attacking my opponent's case and then rebuilding onto my own (as is the norm in being second team in public forum). I will signpost where I am, in case I go out of order based on what is on the flow.

First, a note on burdens and evidence burdens. My opponent says that we cannot use evidence from non-2015, or at least not before 2014. Yet, all of his constructive evidence comes from '99, '11 and '06 -- he is inherently contradicting himself. If he says that I don't have access to my piece of evidence, then he should not have access to his either, meaning that he has no valid evidence to back up his entire constructive case. Do not let him extend any cards from his constructive, all he can do from now on is using analytics to prove his constructive ponits, not using old evidence as he says is irrelevant!

Get Congress out of standardised testing - so, my opponent concedes that standardised testing is harmful as it exists in the status quo (which is NCLB and the like compliance). He says that we teach kids to the test and that this is bad, but this is exactly what standaridsed testing is at this moment. Further, he explains, that it only builds memorisation rather than understanding ... this is a clear concession, you can vote for me right now even if I don't address anything else he says.

On the mark: my opponent just says that standardised testing CAN be good, but fails to explain how, in aggregate, it can possibly be a good thing. Cross-apply my contentions, saying that racism & eugenics are inevitable. He gives the definition of standardised testing, which is that it is standardised, but fails to explain how this is a good thing - I concede that standardised testing in theory provides these meaningful impacts, but in application this theory if far, far removed.

Basically, in response to my first contention, my opponent brings up his McWhorter card saying that all I am doing is claiming that the test is racist because black students cannot perform well on it. But, this notion isn't even correct, because I have provided, through my dropped Berlak and Rooks cards, saying that standardised testing is inherently racist! For example, there is a test in New York that asked what best goes with the word 'cup', providing the choices (that are relevant) of a table and a saucer. Because impovershed kids in this area (see: black students) did not afford to put cups on saucers, they chose table ... yet, as we see, the correct answer was saucer! This is inherent bias against students that are low income (and the system that we have makes low income people through race).

On my 2nd contention, he just says that I don't know if data is being given away, or that I don't know how it is... but the reporter for the Freedom Outpost explains (if you read the source, not just what I had summarised) is that anyone can get this data if they say that they need it for educational purposes (specifically broad!). So, the data is free to give away to the governmental agencies that exist.

He doesn't understand my eugenics contention at all. Because we can order students from smartest to dumbest, we have the ability to send off students to warzones that we don't deem as necessary or beneficial to the US (the dumbest kids!) ... this is shown by example of WW1, and that there are people within the military that oversee the draft that are in favor of eugenics. You drop this completely!

Debate Round No. 2


Ok first i would like to say that i never said you couldn't use non-2015 evidence. I said that your 2013 evidence is from almost 3 years ago. What I'm trying to say is that its been almost 3 years ago meaning a lot has changed in that 2-3 years that evidence was released. And yes I have used '99 '11' and 06 evidence but the evidence is still ok because it is in other evidence that I have read.

For my Get Congress out of Standarised testing argument when I say it build memorisation I'm saying that when you take a test lets say in english you want to know that vocab word or part of that story meaning you need to use that memorisation skill to remember what word goes with what and what is going on in the story. And also I did say standarized testing can be good and I did stat examples. I said and I quotes "progress of a child's education and determining where to go next." and "tests aim to determine how a classroom, a school or a district stands in educating children." So what you said about me not giving examples how is can be good is wrong. Because apparently you didn't read that text right.

What you said responding to my McWhorter evidence. About the test in New York, no one would know that a saucer goes with a cup. It's the 21st century. I would have put table and i'm not black. And that test you never said if it was a standarized test. You just said is was a test. We are talking about Standarized testing!!!

Your 2nd contention- You said Data is free to give away to the governmental agencies that exist. And anyone can ask for is if they say it is for eduational purposes, but who would want to take someones data that just stupid.

And last you said WE have the ability to send off students to a warzone that we din;t deem as necessary or benefiial to the US. But who is we, who are you saying can do that. And sending students to warzones has nothing to do with how standarized testing is good or bad. And I never dropped it becuase you never said anything about sending students of to warzones in any of you evidence. I went back and read your evidence and saw nothing about sending them of to warzones!!!!


My opponent simply doesn't understand anything that I am claiming. He says he can have evidence from the last century, while I cannot have some from 3 years ago; he is saying that because I never specifically said standardised testing any tests I say must not be standardised tests (yet, they actually are, it should be inferred); he is saying that what I am claiming is false because it's dumb; and because I don't specify that the US government is doing something then I can't have any ground.

If you read my evidence and my case with a careful eye you should know literally everything I am talking about -- taking everything out of context and reading incarefully means you don't get what I am saying.

Extend all rebuttals & defense, they were never really contested.
Debate Round No. 3


I said that my arguments are still relevent because they are in other evidence that is from 2014 and 15. My evidence may be from 1999, 2011, and 2006 but It is also in recent evidence from this year. And I do know what you are talking about but you brought new evidence in that speech you gave a from round 2 and I re-read your round one evidence a whole bunch of times and saw nothing that involded WW1 and sending students to warzones. You didn't say any of that. And we are talking about Standarized test, NOT WW1 and warzones. You also didn't resond to my round 3 argument so I have nothing to argue with you except for the fact that the judge should vote Standarized testing good because Students need this is they want to get smarter and learn more stuff.

You should vote this because i'm pretty sure that since my opponent didn't back up half their arguments in round 3. That they dropped a lot of there arguments. Yes I may have only dropped one. But when they didn't back up their argument in round 3 they dropped it.

I have nothing to respond to in there round 3 argument.


Extend all; no response needed beyond that.
Debate Round No. 4
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