Does your country/state do testing in schools and does it cause problems?

@emeraldisle (13158)
United States
December 11, 2006 8:23am CST
I live in Florida and here we have the FCAT. It's a state run test given during schooling. Students have to pass certain years of it in order to be promoted, specifically in 4th, 8th and 10th grades. This sounds great. You know, make things standardized so that we know that the students graduating have learned what they need to. The problem comes in, especially in grade school, the teachers are so worried about the test results (the schools get funding based on scores) that they are teaching tricks to pass the tests instead of the basics. The tests are multiple guess for the most part. To give an example for this. When my niece was in grade school instead of having them really memorize the addition through repetition like most of us did growing up they had them learn "think abouts". So something like 8 + 18= they would go "Well 8 is around 10 and 18 is around 20 so the answer is around 30". Now when my niece wrote down the answer of 26 for this problem, she was marked wrong on it because it wasn't the around number they had wanted her to get. These are tricks to help them pass the math part of the FCAT. If they had taught them the basics like they should have the students would pass it just as well, if not better. This happens in all the subjects not just math but it was the easiest example to show. Another example is in writing. They tell them how to do a basic essay with an introduction, three paragraphs, and a conclusion. They don't bother to explain how to use those paragraphs to support or explain their introduction. They don't teach how each paragraph should flow into the other or how the conclusion should sum everything up. See with the five paragraph essay like that, if a student does it, even minimally they will pass, maybe with a low score but they pass. They look for the pattern first when scoring. Then when the student gets to junior or middle school they don't have the basics to draw on when they are given more complex work to do. They struggle and flounder with the work. Parents have to try and help them and the teachers at that level are confused as to why students are having such difficulty. Does your country or state have similar testing? Have you seen it cause problems like this within the schools? I'm curious to know if this is something just in my area or if it is a major problem. Testing like this should be making sure that students are learning before they graduate but from what I've seen its just making it harder for them to have the skills they really need. What is your opinion on this?
26 responses
• United States
11 Dec 06
These kinds of tests don't truly give you a strong picture of what students can do. I hate to see people reduced to a standard test score. This type of teaching to get kids to pass the tests happens in many states and is not good for students. Everything in a child's life is focused on a test and what it says you can do. Anyone taking a test can have a bad day, be sick, not be as focused, be nervous, not be represented properly for their culture, etc., but who cares about any of those things when this test has been developed to define the rest of your life. I'm sorry but even colleges are getting smarter now days about not just accepting students with high ACT or SAT scores because they might miss out on a brilliant mind if they do. We are not just the results of a standard test and students in K through 6 sometimes suffer because we are still judged that way.
2 people like this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
Very well said. Anything can throw off a student taking the test. I messed up once because my pencil got off alignment and I was one answer off on everything. Thankfully it was just a normal test and the teacher realized but with these big tests most of the multiple guess ones are just run through the machine and no human sees it.
1 person likes this
@Karma71 (176)
• United States
11 Dec 06
I live in Georgia and we have the CRCT and the kids in 3rd, 5th and 8th grades have to pass that test to be promoted. My girls are in 6th and 8th grade now. The teachers spend alot fo time preparing the kids for the test. I don't think one test should decide if a student passes or fails. Like you said some kids don't test well. When my youngest was in 3rd grade I remember her teacher telling me that they changed the guidelines and that was the first year the 3rd graders had to pass the CRCT to be promoted and I asked her that goes along with her classroom grades right?? She told me no. If they don't pass the test they will be retained if they don't got to summer school. Say what??? I don't think thats right. What about the rest of the grades all year?? If those don't matter then why have them do any work?? When my youngest was in 3rd grade she made A/B honor roll all year and if she didn't pass the CRCT then those grades wouldn't have mattered.(So far both my girls have passed it in 3rd and 5th grade, now my oldest has to pass it in 8th grade)
@Karma71 (176)
• United States
12 Dec 06
Yep, it doesn't make sense. So far neither of my kids have had any problems passing the tests but I don't think it's fair to put that much pressure on children for one test.
@kcbabez14 (967)
• United States
11 Dec 06
In indiana we have hte i-step testing and if you don't pass that by your senior year you don't graduate! It's stupid because you could be a straight A student and not be able to pass it and can't get your diploma because of it! I was almost one of those people because i couldn't pass that test until my jr. year in high school! i was an high honor roll student!
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
I've heard of similar here in Florida. Good students who just can't take tests like that. They freeze up. I understand having some tests but they shouldn't put that much pressure on them for it.
• United States
11 Dec 06
My sister never did well on written tests because of her poor eyesight (almost legally blind when we were in school). If they would give oral exams to that type of student (or any other student who doesn't do well on written or timed exams), maybe they would be able to pass the tests. It's a shame that our present and incoming governors think the FCAT is great. And I sure DIDN'T vote for either one of them.
@brokentia (10396)
• United States
11 Dec 06
I am a Floridian. And I can say that I truly disliked the FCAT and am glad we moved. Just because a child does not test well, do not mean that they should have to take extra classes or be held back from graduating! This FCAT is so important, they take precious time for learning real lessons to prepare children for teh FCAT! My eldest son received straight A's. However, because he did not test well, they wanted him to take an extra reading class to bring his grade up for the FCAT. Why shouldn't the quality of his grades and everyday work not count? If the teacher would focus more on the subject instead of FCAT preparation, then it would not be such an issue. Also, the schools get funding based on the FCAT scores. If the school did poorly, they do not get as much as a school that did well. Why? Should they not get funds based on the amount of children? Therefore, the schools that did poorly are again concentrating more of FCAT readiness to ensure that the scores do increase and more money for the school next year. I do not like the FCAT or any other tests like this for that matter. Near the end of gratuation students take a SAT or ACT...that should be the proof that is needed that they are ready for college. I understand testing them throughout the grades just to keep track of progress and encourage those to take more advanced classes. But they should not be warranted the importance as they have been in Florida. I am very glad we moved for this reason also. :) And honestly, I find that I like the midwest states schools better. Come to Oklahoma or Kansas. :)
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
Trust me if I could move I would, in a heartbeat. At least I'm not the only one who has seen this pattern here in Florida. I agree SAT or ACT should be enough but they don't seem to agree. I have seen the teachers start preparing the students on FCAT testing months before had. Having little things in class for them to do to make sure they know how to fill in the bubbles, how to eliminate obvious wrong answers, etc. They take valuable class time for that and then complain they don't have enough time to teach.
1 person likes this
@brokentia (10396)
• United States
12 Dec 06
Exactly! Because then all they are learning is how to test rather than what they are testing ON.
@kawillow74 (1417)
• United States
11 Dec 06
Our kids take one every year is it called PSSA test and it does the same thing at the end of the year they will mail them to you with the results. And they also do a IQ. test every year.But the differance is I don't think allot of our teachers care.
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
That can make a big difference. Here the results determine which school gets what money so they really care about what the results are.
@Force_Fed (748)
• United States
11 Dec 06
We have tests like that in Va. They call them the Standards of Learning(SOL) tests. They are supposed to test the schools not the students and schools' funding and acredidation is based ont he results. At first I thought they were a great idea, but in practice the kids are rushed throught he review for these tests and they spend little time on actual learning. It is another step toward the total decline of public education in America. Force
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
Have to laugh at the short name for them. I think it is very apropriate for them. SOL just really works. Exactly what happens here. Very little time for actual learning and concentrating far too much on the tests. They need to realize this and fix it.
1 person likes this
@micheller (1366)
• United States
11 Dec 06
yes they have them kind of tests here where i live also. i think that the tests aren't fair because some students aren't good test takers and if they fail the test they fail their grade. that's not fair at all. the tests are really hard to.
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
12 Dec 06
The tests can be and again some students just don't do well on tests. To base things on one test isn't right and yet they seem to do it all the time.
1 person likes this
@wolflvr (336)
• United States
11 Dec 06
I live in New Hampshire. We don't have any tests like that. We only have to take standardized testing and that i show they determine the amount of funding recieved. One state over in Massachusetts they have the MCATS which is in the news all the time. They have to pass the tests in order to graduate and students are failing the tests. So there is alot of talk in Massachusetts about changing the MCATS. It seem to be a problem all over not just in certain states.
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
They use it here for determining funding as well. I'm glad yours don't determine if they pass or not. I'm sure that makes a big difference.
• United States
11 Dec 06
I live in North Carolina and we have those kinds of test here called End of Grade testing. THey give them in 3rd and 5th grades. If the child doesn't pass this test then they fail the grade. I don't think that is fair at all. If a child makes good grades all year then fails the test it isn't right to hold them back.
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
That happens here too. THey could be straight A students and they won't graduate if they don't pass the FCAT. I don't agree with it either. Some people just don't do well with tests of that nature and they shouldn't be punished for it. How often in the business world do we have to do tests like that?
1 person likes this
@Ravenladyj (22992)
• United States
11 Dec 06
I live in NY and we have the state testing here..I personally think its a load of crap (and have actually had the principal and a couple teachers agree)...bottomline it boils down to money here in NY...if your school tests higher, they get more cash, if you test lower overall you are S.O.L which IMO is seriously assbackwards and nonsense really....my son is currently taking 3 different math classes this yr in order to prep for his gr 8 tests and I'm sorry but thats just too much IMO...I mean my son is currently doin math work that my husband and I didnt do until high school for cryin out loud....It bs as far as I'm concerned
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
Same here with my niece. She's doing math and science I didn't do until high school, and I was a fairly good student. I think it's crazy myself. The amount they spend on getting them prepared would be better served teaching good solid skills. That way they can do things without having to resort to tricks and tips.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Dec 06
Yes , we have the FCAT too. It is horrible, useless, stressful, and makes education painful ly competitive, and not fun or about truly learning
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
That sums it up exactly. It seems to suck the education out of school, not to mention the fun that can be had.
1 person likes this
@ljmc24 (413)
• United States
11 Dec 06
In Texas they have the TAAS well it used to be called that, now it is called TAKS, or something like that. Other note, I just moved from Florida back to Texas, I really miss it there.
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
You miss Florida? I feel for you then. I've noticed states like to change the name periodically. It used to be called Florida Writes here and then became the FCAT.
@ljmc24 (413)
• United States
11 Dec 06
If you don't pass the ones here in Texas you don't graduate. I don't think that should be the case. Some people just don't test well.
@lissaj (532)
• United States
11 Dec 06
I live in Texas also, and let me tell you my surprise when I went to my parent teacher conference for my 4 year old pre-kindergarten child. They test in pre-k! Now that is just plain crazy. What I was told is that they are already starting to prepare them for the higher level grade tests. My 4 year old is already learning to count. I guess that is good in a way, but I think they put too much emphasis on the testing and not enough on the teaching.
1 person likes this
@AKRao24 (4248)
• India
12 Dec 06
I am from India, we have got mandatory examination for each class in the school.They are conducted by the school only, and these exmas are combination of objective and descriptive type. We have Central Board of Examination, State Board of Examination and ICS Board. These boards though have bit different pattern of examination more or less they all have objective plus descriptive type of examination in junior clasees. State Boards are conducting board examination at 4th grade, 7th grade and at 10th grade, CBSC coducts exam at 19th grade and ISC Board conducts examination at 10th grade.All these examinations are quite sensible and used to test the real capability of students.They are trained accordingly.Even the school level exams are also take these facts into consideration. So naturally when such students get out of their schools to attend the junior college and then senior College they don't haveany problem ! Thats the reason Indian students are doing exceptionally well all around the world !
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
12 Dec 06
It's nice to hear that the testing can be done correctly and enable the student to do well. I wish ours did. Our schools have a tendency to lump all students together. They use the tests to promote or keep a kid behind no matter how they have done in school. They also use the results to determine funding. Wrong reason because then the school factuly stresses over the scores.
• India
12 Dec 06
You are right! But you forgot to mention nthe IIT-JEEs, AIEEEs,AIPMT, and many more hardcore exams.....Even the best can never imagine to these without coachings and tuitions.To my american counterpart search the web and you will yourself come to know the standards in India.Mind it! these tests are just conducted after you have completed your schooling.
@claudia413 (4284)
• United States
11 Dec 06
My School Seal - I received a wonderful education at Hialeah High School in Hialeah, Florida (same county as Miami). Today's kids aren't as lucky. Most of them don't have the basics they need to survive in college or the workplace. I feel sorry for them.
As a Florida native, I feel our schools now concentrate too much on the tests and not enough on actual education. I have friends and relatives who are teachers here in Florida, and they all complain about it...but they are forced to do it. I think it's wrong because there are so many kids that can't take a written or timed test, yet they can answer the questions if posed to them orally. I do better with written tests myself, but one of my sisters was almost legally blind and couldn't finish a written or timed test (but she could have answered correctly if asked the questions). Everyone isn't alike. The teachers should be allowed to teach like they're supposed to. Graduates definitely DO NOT have the skills they need when they graduate today. I have 5 grandchildren, 2 in NY and 3 in GA. So far, they've all been able to be promoted to the next grade and two have graduated, but I still think it's unfair for so many reasons. No one should be held back because of the results of ONE test. Florida better go back to giving funds to schools based on attendance and not this ONE test.
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
12 Dec 06
I've known several students who can't take tests especially when they are on a time limit. Yes they can retake it but it's still timed and even more stress to pass now. I wish they would go back to doing the funding based on number of students, not whether they have high or low scores on the FCAT.
1 person likes this
• United States
3 May 07
Emeraldisle, thanks for giving me Best Response. It is appreciated.
@Signal20 (2282)
• United States
12 Dec 06
OH the good old FCAT's lol. We just moved away from Florida(and I don't miss it, not one thing lol). They have the same in TN, forget what it's called, we moved up towards the end of the year so the kid's didn't have to take it up here. I agree with everything you said though. It also caused a lot of stress, at least on my kids. They passed it everytime, no problems, but the teachers are so paranoid about all the kids passing(like you said, the funding), they stress the poor kids out over it and make them worry that they're going to repeat that grade. I guess it can be a good system to make sure the kids know what they should at that level, but it definitely needs some revamping.
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
12 Dec 06
Would be nice if they did and didn't use it for funding. Maybe if they gave the funding to the schools that did worst so they could afford to do extra classes that would take the stress off? I know they won't do that but in someways makes more sense then to give the money to the ones who do the best.
@5berries (120)
• United States
12 Dec 06
We are in Alaska. All states have that sort of testing. It is part of the No Child Left Behind Act. Only problem is the children who are behind are still left behind because they don't get the proper help, special ed is overwhelmed with students because they don't fit the standard. And the children who excel are dragged down by the fact that there are so many "SPED" kids. (Not that it is their fault). Most these kids are not SPED kids. Everyone learns differently, yet our kids are being squished into the same mold. Up here there is an abundance of homeschooled kids. But homeschool is not isolation. One of the our schools lets you teach the subjects you are comfortable with and offer classes as groups as well. They allot money for Music, PE, and field trips and you get to pick where that money goes. You can have your child in dance, gymnastics, choir. You can get them guitar lessons. Whatever their interests are you can tailor it to them. I personally am not going to homeschool and it is not for everyone but I am going to put my kids in charter school. Charter schools are innovative and creative and they require parents to be involved. And they are goverment funded. It is up to us parents to change the system.
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
12 Dec 06
There is an adundance of homeschool here let me tell you. We thought of doing it as well but we didn't have the patients for it. We have two charter school in the area and both are for high school only. One private school that is Catholic based and it is for up to 8th grade only. Of course here in Florida whether you are in private, charter or homeschooled you still have to pass the FCAT in order to graduate. Nice huh? You can't escaped it at all.
• United States
12 Dec 06
The FCAT is about the most screwed up test i have ever taken. and trust me, that includes a lot of tests. however, since its just such a necessity to our school system, i like it. (note the badly disguised sarcasm).
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
12 Dec 06
Love the sarcasm. I hated it too although it wasn't called FCAT at the time. You would think they could come up with something better.
@Aali311 (6127)
• United States
12 Dec 06
I live in Florida also, I think the fcats are good tests, but the way they are teaching the kids are different than when I was in school, I'm not sure what parents can do about it, I'm well aware of the standards of the Fcats, my stepdaughter took them in fourth grade and my stepson is about to take them in a few months.
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
12 Dec 06
They can be good tests they just over stress them too much. teaching is different and what they teach is from when I was in school. Some of it's good but so much that I see just isn't right. The teachers seem to stress the students out so much about taking that test. I'm sure that the teachers have stress from up above them, it just trickled on down. I'm not sure what parents can do either. I know we've mentioned it to our school but they didn't want to hear it.
@saeedsid (1120)
• Pakistan
11 Dec 06
Yes and it causes no problems . cause students get admission on their merit... and it is a good practise to make students work hard.
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
11 Dec 06
Sounds though where you are at they are teaching them and not just grooming them to take a test and pass. That's good to know.
• India
12 Dec 06
yaa here evry year they take such test for promoting.