The Instigator
AdamJ
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Contra
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

Should there be standardized testing in the USA?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Contra
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/26/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,069 times Debate No: 23215
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)

 

AdamJ

Pro

Should standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, be implemented in the United States?

First round is acceptance.
Good luck!
Contra

Con

Conditions for Debate

It is stated "Should standardized tests be implemented in the US", so by this wording, I will in this debate:

1) Debate that the federal government SHOULD NOT implement national or local standardized tests, and
2) Standardized tests should only be required if the states so wish, or the local schools so wish to mandate them.

**I will assume that standardized tests such as the ACT/ SAT are available for students if the school does not mandate them.

Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1
AdamJ

Pro

As a high school student currently studying for the ACTs, I at times wonder why standardized tests are used. After little thought, however, I always come to understand the beneficial aspects such tests have.

To begin my argument, I would like to present a scenario. A student at a high school has a 4.0 GPA, but scores a 20 on the ACT (the national average). Based on these results, it seems plausible that perhaps the student does not meet the academic qualifications of the college/university they applied to. This is because any high school can control what grades a student gets. In fact, there are so many factors that play into a student's academic success in school, and many of them have little to do with actual academic ability. Standardized tests allow admissions officers to not only decide whether the student's grades match his potential, but also how he or she compares to the rest of the applicant pool.

Since standardized tests like the ACT and SAT occur on a nationwide scale, it is easy to determine where the student should be, and in what areas they are excelling. As I stated above, this information cannot be generated based on school academic results alone. One common argument against standardized tests is that they are not accurate indicators of a student's ability. However, this is definitely not the case. The companies that prepare these tests invest millions of dollars to ensure that these tests represent a student's academic ability. Also, standardized tests generally test several basic components that are used in everyday life, such as mathematics, reading, and English. As an individual who has personally benefited from preparing for standardized tests, I can attest that they can greatly improve student's basic skills, such as English and mathematics. These skills can also be implemented in school, post-secondary education, and in society, which would in turn cause the student to excel even more!

As you can see, it is clear that standardized tests should be used in the United States. Not only do they identify who matches academic criteria, they allow students to improve their skills. Furthermore, standardized tests act as indicators to institutions or regions that perhaps lack a proper education. For example, if most students from a particular high school receive below-average scores on a standardized test, it is probable that the teachers there are not doing a good job.
Contra

Con


My opponent has basically stated that we need standardized testing for several reasons;

1) It is accurate and reflective of a student's educational achievements
2) They allow students to improve their skills, and
3) They measure the achievement and merit of teachers and their institutions


--Rebuttals--


1: "It is accurate and reflective of a student's education achievements"


Standardized tests require students to answer multiple choice questions with only one correct answer. They reward the ability to quickly answer superficial questions that do not require real thought. They don't require any real constructive thinking. To prepare students for the test, teachers are forced to teach a narrow curriculum that is outdated and harmful, as well as ineffective. The tests also assume all test-takers have been exposed to a middle class background.

I have a personal example, from my advanced biology class. The question was:

What RNA molecule allows proteins to be formed in the cell?

1) Transfer RNA molecule
2) Messenger RNA molecule
3) Ribosomonal RNA molecule
4) Anti-codon Protein

The answer is not simply one of these. Multiple choice questions have one answer, even though when you look at it from perspective, one answer is not usually sufficient. [1]

The true answer could've been 1, 2, or 3, when you are narrow in view. Since proteins are formed in ribosomes in the cell cytoplasm, #3 would've been right because ribosomonal proteins form ribosomes where the construction of proteins take place. However, #1 would've been right as well because transfer molecules transfer the pieces to construct the protein (called anticodons). However, #2 would've been right as well, because messenger RNA is the blueprint that #3 holds, so that #1 knows what specific anticodons to get from the cell cytoplasm. As you can tell, I know much in detail about protein synthesis and creation (at least for my grade level). However, the narrow multiple choice question is inhibiting such constructive thought. You only have a limited amount of time for each question, so you have to be short in thought process [2]. So, the whole thinking process is removed, and you basically pick and choose off the surface of what you know. A fatally flawed approach. Standardized tests simply put are against nurturant, constructive thinking that is actually useful.

Most standardized tests do not incorporate the modern theories and are still based on recall of isolated facts and narrow skills. Multiple-choice tests are a very poor yardstick of student performance. They do not measure the ability to write, to use math, to make meaning from text when reading, to understand scientific methods or reasoning, or to grasp social science concepts, or constructively think. These tests also inadequately measure thinking skills or assess what people can do on real-world tasks. [3]

Consensus: Standardized tests actually inhibit real thinking, and are strictly recall and narrow. It does not measure what a student has learned accurately, that is why teachers usually do not use standardized tests voluntary often. [3] These types of tests also do not evaluate what people can do in real world tasks. In the example I included, a standardized test prevents this type of constructive thinking, instead substituting it for fast, narrow recall questions. In a national standardized test system, teachers would instead teach the test and be narrow in teaching so that students would do better on the standardized tests.

In my example, a teacher would teach the students that proteins are made in cell ribosome molecules, because this objective approach would most likely be correct on a standardized test. How though, is this POSSIBLY going to help a student? I think that nurturing a student's thought process, teaching them the whole subject comprehensively, is a more constructive approach for real life.


2: "They allow students to improve their skills"

Standardized tests force teachers to teach the test narrowly [4] instead of nurturing a real learning process. My protein synthesis example supports this. Teaching the test is not helpful at all. I may know that protein synthesis is created in a ribosome, but how does this possibly help? If standardized tests were not mandatory, students could learn the whole comprehensive subject.

In fact, teaching the test has led to suppression of intellectual excitement among students, and has been found to have few benefits, in return for the damage it causes. [5]


3. "They measure the achievement and merit of teachers and their institutions"

So, we already know that standardized tests are counterproductive, forcing students to learn recall, narrow, and scrutinized answers which are not helpful later in life. The tests fail to provide information that can help a teacher understand what to do next in working with a student because they do not indicate how the student learns or thinks. Good evaluation, and other techniques would provide helpful information to teachers. [3]

--Arguments--

C1: A Real Investment in Education


Our goal for the nation's education system should be a vibrant, well funded and high standards education system. Teachers nurture student's minds and the children themselves, and being honest about the nation, its wonders and blemishes. Good teacher observation, direct evaluation of student effort on real learning tasks, and the following list can create a world class education system (study by Center for American Progress):

1) Education funds should be distributed based on student need and focused on closing education achievement disparities.

2) State and local officials and educators have flexibility in determining how best to spend federal education funds.

3) In return for flexibility, fund recipients and educators should be held accountable for boosting student achievement and meeting other educational priorities.

4) A highly effective education workforce is essential to boost student achievement.

Modeling the Succesor: Finland

Finland hugely reformed their education system about 40 years ago. Now, they rank at the top in education. Let's model their successes. However, they did this with one basic premise: Going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses. [6]

Their school system has egalitarian policies, including free meals for full time students, no tuition fees, well designed daycare programs for children, a nine year basic compulsory education, and available vocational school. They take only 1 standardized test, and all others are based on the nurturant education model I have argued for instead of a rigid standardized test scheme. [6]


Conclusion:


Standardized tests are narrow, inclunclusive, ineffective, and ultimately, useless. They fail to provide teachers with information on how to teach better, since they don't show the teachers how a student learns or thinks. They fail to improve education since they don't allow teachers to nurture a student's mind with comprehensive, in class hands on learning practices, and are forced to teach the test, which is a negative effect on the learning process itself. Standardized tests are also designed poorly.


"According to Richard D. Kahlenber’s article, both teachers and students spend most of their time studying the textbook concepts to prepare for exams. However, in reality, students do not only need academic knowledge, but also creativity, morality, aesthetic, and life skills in order to prepare for future success. Standardized tests do not meet students’ real needs or help with their prospective lives." [7]


Vote CONtra




Sources:

[1] http://www.rethinkingschools.org...

[2] Ibid

[3] http://www.fairtest.org...

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk...

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[7] http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com...
Debate Round No. 2
AdamJ

Pro

Now I shall present my rebuttals, which will cover the aforementioned information presented by Con.

To begin with, Con's biology test is in no way a model for standardized testing, since after all, it represents a single "actual" experience with something completely unrelated with standardized testing. Therefore, that part of Con's argument should be ignored.

Reading through Con's argument, I find it difficult to believe that he has any understanding of standardized testing at all! Recall his statement "they do not measure the ability to write, to use math, to make meaning from text when reading, to understand scientific methods or reasoning, or to grasp social science concepts, or constructively think. These tests also in adequately measure thinking skills or asses what people can do in real-world tasks". This statement is full of fallacies, since standardized tests like the ACT and SAT cover all of the sections Con states the tests don't measure. For instance, the SAT has a math section where students apply real-world math techniques to solve problems! Additionally standardized tests do in fact measure a student's ability to write, since many of them have essay writing sections. Therefore, it can be seen that Con has a very rudimentary understanding of standardized tests, and that despite his impressive list of sources, he fails to grasp the basis of such tests.

The second part of Con's argument is that standardized tests impede on student's learning. This assumption is incorrect, as teachers are not suppose to gear curriculums directly toward standardized tests. If anything, this is an indicator of teachers who are not doing their job! Much of the material on standardized tests are up to the student to learn on their won time, and that is what separates the men from the boys.

According to Con, standardized tests favor the wealthy. Again, this statement is untrue, since it is the student's effort which determines his or her score. It does not matter how many private tutoring sessions you have, at the end of the day it is up to the individual student. Studying for standardized tests does not require expensive books or tutoring, and that is the way they are designed! That is why standardized tests are also known as aptitude tests, since they test a student's aptitude, not knowledge or education.

With regards to Cons example of Finland, I would just like to say that that is like comparing apples and oranges. These are two different completely different societies, and therefore what works for them does not necessarily mean it will work for us.

Lastly, Con abruptly states at the end that standardized tests are designed poorly, but yet provides no evidence to this claim. As I explained in my opening statement, millions of dollars are invested in these tests, and hundreds of researchers spend months designing the tests and having it tested.

As a concluding statement, I hope voters understand that I am defending false claims, which is why my response may sound a bit strong. Still, I believe that it is only fair to point out the flaws of my oppositions argument, and to explain why standardized tests are beneficial.

With that, I thank-you for reading, and urge you to vote pro for a brighter future for America!
Contra

Con

Rebuttals


"With regards to Cons example of Finland, I would just like to say that that is like comparing apples and oranges."

COME ON DUDE YOU ARE NOT FREAKIN HERMAN CAIN! [1]


"To begin with, Con's biology test is in no way a model for standardized testing, since after all, it represents a single "actual" experience with something completely unrelated with standardized testing. Therefore, that part of Con's argument should be ignored."


A contradiction. My opponent ALSO listed in his argument how standardized tests "helped him". So, use both analogies or neither.

"Reading through Con's argument, I find it difficult to believe that he has any understanding of standardized testing at all! "

I definately know what they are, I have taken plenty.

" This statement is full of fallacies, since standardized tests like the ACT and SAT cover all of the sections Con states the tests don't measure."

Not true. The reason is simple. For standardized tests, you have a very short finite amount of time. Thus, you cannot comprehensively evaluate the questions and write a constructive answer expalaining in detail your answer. For example, a ST may ask a person what a nucleotide is, but that doesn't mean they legitimately get it. To legitamely get what a nucleotide is, they need to see its relationship through various ways of learning in connection with DNA and how this translates into new proteins in protein synthesis and other facets of genetics. See, ST IGNORES these connections. It just asks narrow, basically useless questions, especially in science fields.

"For instance, the SAT has a math section where students apply real-world math techniques to solve problems! Additionally standardized tests do in fact measure a student's ability to write, since many of them have essay writing sections. Therefore, it can be seen that Con has a very rudimentary understanding of standardized tests, and that despite his impressive list of sources, he fails to grasp the basis of such tests."

These types of tests may evaluate writing, but from my understanding, students CANNOT answer questions in writing (multiple choice) which are contradicting to the thought that students should be constructive thinkers.


As I have said, to prepare students for ST, they must "teach the test", which leads to narrow, less effective, and rigid thinking curriculums.

"The second part of Con's argument is that standardized tests impede on student's learning. This assumption is incorrect, as teachers are not suppose to gear curriculums directly toward standardized tests."

Students are usually not held accountable as much as their teachers are. Thus, teachers, especially if ST are mandatory, will teach the test so that the students do well, it is pretty common sense.

"Much of the material on standardized tests are up to the student to learn on their won time, and that is what separates the men from the boys."

This proves my point, people who are of lower economic status are hurt more by ST. They do not likely have the resources such as graphing calculators, computers, internet, etc., in order to succeed. So, my opponent has furthered my argument that ST are biased against lower income students.

People who are of lower economic status will have less "won" time since they are more likely to be working.

"According to Con, standardized tests favor the wealthy. Again, this statement is untrue, since it is the student's effort which determines his or her score. It does not matter how many private tutoring sessions you have, at the end of the day it is up to the individual student. Studying for standardized tests does not require expensive books or tutoring, and that is the way they are designed!"

According to this, my opponent agrees that 1) lower income students will be biased on ST because they lack the materials to further their education after school, and 2) proves that ST do not require advanced learning, which contradicts his earlier point that the student has to learn on their own time. Also, my opponent proves that ST do not require advanced learning, so HE AGREES THAT STANDARDIZED TESTS are of poor measure to evaluate students since they are inconclusive.




"These are two different completely different societies, and therefore what works for them does not necessarily mean it will work for us."

This is true, but we must consider that KIPP Charter Schools have also implemented some of these policies that Finland uses, and they are successful. [2]

"Lastly, Con abruptly states at the end that standardized tests are designed poorly, but yet provides no evidence to this claim. As I explained in my opening statement, millions of dollars are invested in these tests, and hundreds of researchers spend months designing the tests and having it tested."

I didn't frankly mean they were poorly designed literally. I meant implicitly that the idea of ST is a poor idea, since it forces teachers to teach the test, leaves narrow interpretation to answers, hinders constructive thinking and nurturance, and is too rigid.

Conclusion:

Standardized Tests (ST) are not the way to succeed. They incentivize the ability to quickly answer superficial questions that do not require real, constructive thought. They do not measure the ability to think or create in any field. Their use encourages a narrowed curriculum and rigid learning. They are thus counterproductive.

Standardized tests mostly are not based on modern, effective learning models and are still based on recall of isolated facts and narrow skills. [3]

Multiple-choice tests are a very poor yardstick of student performance. They don't require explanation of thought, don't demonstrate how to write a statement, to use math, to make meaning from text when reading, to understand scientific methods or reasoning, or to grasp social science concepts. Nor do these tests adequately measure thinking skills or assess what people can do on real-world tasks. [3] All they require is filling a narrow minded bubble. This is useless.

Teachers cannot evaluate student needs based on the test as I have said. Research has indicated that the amount of poverty found in a community, and other factors that have absolutely nothing to do with what happens in the classroom, account for the great majority of differences in test scores from one area to another. [4]

We are currently testing now MORE THAN WE EVER HAD BEFORE in US History. [4] Yet, education is not improving. We must ask ourselves, with ST are we measuring intelligence or practical ability, or are we just simply measuring our test taking skills? Since ST lead students to have to answer questions narrowly and with rigid, little thought, it is against constructive thought, nurturance, and against all the things that we have found (in KIPP Charter Schools and Finland) to be the most successful, it is concluded that ST are counterproductive and harmful. Thank you for reading.



Vote CONtra.



Sources:

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] "Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government For a Strong Economy" Nov. 2011, by Bill Clinton

[3] http://www.fairtest.org...

[4] http://www.standardizedtesting.net...


Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Logic_on_rails 5 years ago
Logic_on_rails
Good to see a debate on education. Clear Con win (before questions on such a quick RFD are levelled, I'd read this debate gradually before the final round was posted) .

Nevertheless, I do support standardised testing for various reasons not articulated well enough or even said in this debate. For instance, using a different marking scheme (ie. use confidence assessment marking) , using multiple levels of distractors in questions (http://www.pearsonassessments.com...) , and reducing the scope of standardised tests make standardised tests completely viable.

In particular, I want to note about scope. While many Western societies are moving towards centralised testing to "catch up" with many Asian societies, Asian societies are moving away from centralised testing (academic Yong Zhao addresses this quite well) . This is a fun little conundrum - both want what the other has!

Standardised testing has it's place, although Pro didn't establish that whatsoever. An overhaul of standardised testing is what's needed though, not an elimination of standardised testing.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by seraine 5 years ago
seraine
AdamJContraTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources is obvious, and Con's argument that standardized testing focus teaching on non-critical thinking won the day.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
AdamJContraTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Contra wins a landslide victory on argumentation. I rarely give out source votes, but when you have 11 relevant sources against none, I'll give it.
Vote Placed by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
AdamJContraTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro used absolutely no sources, made some unnecessary attacks on the con, and his rebuttals to the con's arguments were very limited and weak. Arguments to the con as well.