The challenge present within public schools across the country is not one that is limited to assessment. Sure, the old “teaching to the test” argument is valid because students do become incentivized to only learn the material in order to score highly on the exam. However, until our federal government implements a policy that does not award schools with funding based off of positive test scores, students’ learning will always be in conjunction with test-taking strategies.

Schools have little motivation to implement creative and diverse assessments in the classroom because our current system benefits those that master the standardize test. Holistic assessments do have many positive benefits for learning inside the classroom, but all of these benefits will never surface without a mindset shift within our federal government.

According to Erik Torenberg, “If a school’s ultimate goal is to get its students into a top college and a subsequent high-paying job, then yes, a focus on test-taking and test preparation is conducive to such a goal” (Where’s the finish line?, 01/17/2011). Well actually Erik, you’re wrong. Schools that focus on test-taking strategies aren’t only concerned about getting their students into top-paying jobs.

If schools want to continue to receive federal funding, and therefore provide endless opportunities to their students, they have no choice but to emphasize the importance of tests. Besides, college requires a vast amount of critical thinking — a skill that isn’t learned through test taking. Schools need to do a lot more than prepare students for examinations if their main goal is to help students enter college. So we need to not be so quick to blame the schools and teachers for the inequalities in education across the country, but rather the policy makers that have the final say.

Steven Benson
LSA senior

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