The Cost of Testing
While it is clear that tests are important, there is now an impression that tests are bad for education. There is, for example, that derogatory phrase "teaching to the test". Looking at any sport, a beginner learns the rules then does some practice. Playing the game is the test and here it is clear, one must be taught the test in order to learn the game. If tests in schools reflect and represent what students must learn then "teaching to the test" is in fact teaching correctly. Unlike sports, however, the objectives of education are not as focused. Schools are supposed to prepare children for so many things like life itself. Thus, there are the skills like collaboration, perseverance and creativity that are quite difficult to measure by tests. Thus, a focus on tests may neglect these very important skills.
High stakes testing dramatically changes the role of exams in schools. When teachers' pay and the survival of a school are dependent on exam scores, the role of exams in education can change so much such that tests can do harm to schools. “Testing More, Teaching Less: What America’s Obsession with Student Testing Costs in Money and Lost Instructional Time,”, a report released by the American Federation of Teachers presents data from two "anonymous" school districts showing how much money and time are being spent on testing:
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|Above figures copied from|
Redirected time and money devoted to excessive testing could be used, for example, to focus on problem-solving and critical-thinking skills and to restore subjects not tested and/or that have been cut, such as art, music, physical education and foreign languages. The financial savings could be used for any number of instructional needs, including the purchase of assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. These assessments will cost between $20 to $35 more per test-taker than the current $20 per test-taker in a typical state, the report said.Tests are good for schools, but we can make exams bad if we use them for a different purpose.