Testing/Tracking Debate

cchezik's picture

Comments

esharma's picture

2nd Period Cons

Testing does not provide an equal opportunity for success, because even though it is available for everyone to take and is based on a curriculum taught to everyone, it is designed to be accessible to mostly the white middle class. Lower class minority students have a harder time on these tests because they have to work much harder to score as well as white students, and this can also be a result of tracking programs that limit the amount of information students learn each year in high school.

The information students are tested on tends to be information that they don't often engage with. Because schools teach to the test, they limit students' creativity by teaching them things they aren't interested in. If schools teach mainly to the test, they are merely preparing students for scoring well, rather than equipping them with the knowledge they would find useful in developing their own path to success.

Laniesha L.'s picture

3rd Period

I'm glad that I was placed on this side because I agree with every point here . I think that tracking , grouping, and testing are good and should be kept. If you score high you get placed high . If you score low you get placed low . But I also believe in second chances . If someone does score low they can study and take the test again if they score low again then i just think that maybe they're not good at the specific subject.

gloudon's picture

3rd Period Pros

I like that you bring up second chances!  To stregthen your argument, perhaps you could propose more frequent standardized assesments?  If students were given more tests, more frequently, each individual test would be worth less.  The average of these scores could determine their placement in perhaps a more fair way.  Consider using this tactict to provide more concrete support for your argument.

gloudon's picture

3rd Period Pros

I like that you bring up second chances!  To stregthen your argument, perhaps you could propose more frequent standardized assesments?  If students were given more tests, more frequently, each individual test would be worth less.  The average of these scores could determine their placement in perhaps a more fair way.  Consider using this tactict to provide more concrete support for your argument.

bhealy's picture

3rd Period Pros

Along with what has already been posted by my groupmates, I would argue that standardized testing reinforces this notion that education is important and it should be taken seriously. I think it is possible to use these tests (which all have consequences in some shape or form) as further proof to students that what they are learning matters, and that they should be putting the effort into their education. This also ties into the fact that these tests are standardized, and therefore they give you a chance to rise above potential constraints, like what type/quality of school you go to. By holding all students to the same standards, a dialogue on hard work and effort can potentially benefit the students.  

Kelly Klot 's picture

3rd Period Pro

Personally I think Testing and tracking is almost the same thing, they fall under the same category. To me, they base eachother off one another basically a little " I scratch your back, you scratch mines" kind of thing.

WilliamM's picture

3rd Period Pro

Why does tracking always come back to race or your financial situation? This is exactly why tracking is a good thing. Somepeople have horrible situations at home and exel in school becuase that is there only sanctuary, to these people learning truly matters, they show the initiotive, and when they test they are in a high track cause they work for it.

sully04's picture

To strengthen your argument,

To strengthen your argument, you could go into more depth about how tests- the actual written exams that we take- are equal for everyone who takes them. The other side might argue that tests are written for students with an upper or middle class background, so everyone else is at a disadvantage; what would you say to that?

Shadirah Workman's picture

Testing/Tracking

I agree that testing will emphasize that learning is important because it shows what you know and what you don't know. Testing lets you know where you stand and shows your ability to learn and retain knowledge. There are some pro's to tracking; one would be that students that work at a higher level than other students should be in a more advanced class to challenge themselves. Testing is pretty fair but every students situation is different. Some students are not good at testing but everybody is given the same opportunities to prepare for a test such as tutoring and sat prep classes.

sully04's picture

To strengthen your argument,

To strengthen your argument, you could add in how tracking affects the students who are not in advanced classes. The other side might argue that even though tracking is helpful for those in the advanced classes, it is really harmful for those who aren't. Can you add in a point about how being in a lower track, with the right attitude, is beneficial for those students who need it?

WilliamG's picture

Testing/Tracking Response

While I agree that some types of tests can show you what you know and what you don't know, I do not think that standardized tests fit this description (for two reasons). Firstly, you cannot really prepare for the standardized test material. Sure, you can take practice tests and get a feel for the test questions, but on test day the reading passages and math problems will be brand new. Secondly, you do not get to see a graded/marked-up standardized test--you only get a test score back. Thus, you can't really see exactly where you went wrong or where you need to improve. You just get a number that makes you feel good, average, or bad.

I think tracking may be helpful to the students that work at a higher level, but really bad and damaging to those who are put in the lower level. These students are thought of as less intelligent and less likely to have a good job, all because they did poorly on a test when they were really young! I don't think this is fair because young students come to school with different levels of preparedness due to their home environment. Thus, if a kid is very smart but his/her parents never cared about education, then that kid will likely fall behind in school regardless of his/her intelligence.

 

BlueBird's picture

2nd Period Cons

While one may argue that testing is important because it intends to standardize education for all, in reality, all that testing does is demonstrate how the American educational system is geared towards keeping the dominant groups in power. Testing favors those who come from an upper-middle class white family. Therefore, walking into a "standardized," some students have an inherent advantage over others. A standardized test should no longer be called a standardized test, but rather should be called something along the lines of, "A Test of Cultural Capital." Cultural capital, in the case of testing, is conforming to the white, upper-middle class culture.

JerronC's picture

Correlation Between Testing and Racial/Social Backgrounds

There is most definitely a correlation between testing and social/racial backgrounds. It is my strong personal beliefs that certain races score higher than others because of the standards of that certain student's parents. It may also refer to the effects of the student's peers. Peer pressure surely is an effect of changing the mindsets of students.

RamintaH's picture

2nd Period Con

These are all valid explanations for how student mindsets can differ, but be sure to bring the focus back to why standardized tests create problems.  If certain races have different standards from their parents, they might simply be learning more.  The Pro team will argue that tests help identify this inequality so we can address it.  A good Con counter-argument would be to emphasize that, since tests are biased toward certain races, they misrepresent the differences in academic capabilities and thus inappropriate decisions might be made, perhaps about tracking.  Then you can link the different standards to the different track levels (which are based on unfair tests) in order to show that the tests themselves are the problem.

Brandee Jones 's picture

2nd period con.

I disagree with tracking because this group can make the lower students feel bad about themselves. I think when students are seperated in groups like that the lower level kids continue to learn lower level things instead of building their learning skills to be on top like the upper level.

RachelK's picture

2nd period Pro

But will the kids in the lower levels be capable of handling higher level groups? After all, they were placed in a lower level in the first place for a reason. They had lower test scores than the others in their class and putting them in higher levels would be unfair to kids who initially did well.

AmbrosiaJ's picture

reply

We should assume that if they had the proper preparation for these exams, as well as the "proper" culture, they would do just as well on these exams as others. Correct?

AmbrosiaJ's picture

2nd period pros & cons

Pros:

With this universal method of assessment, individuals from all social class backgrounds have the opportunity to move up on the social class ladder. Standardized testing is a way to assess students from all around the country equally. So that all of the students are taught the same thing, standardized testing enforces equalized education so that our country has a common curriculum. This common curriculum will not only give everyone equal access, but also an equal opportunity to succeed.

 

Cons: 

Cultural capital is a huge part of doing well on these exams. You must have a high education background, familiar with Beethoven, familiar or fluent in Latin, and much more! These things are common among the middle and upper middle class, not the lower and working class.  What has been recognized, but has not been modified is the fact that these exams are programmed to almost guarantee success for certain types of students. Your socio-economic status is extremely important when it comes to the scores received. Those of high socio-economic statuses can afford the high quality preparation courses to prepare students for the exams. In addition, these students are also those who are on the higher spectrum of Cultural Capital. Many questions asked on these exams refer to topics that the elite would be able to answer, refer to, or make connections with. Those students who don’t have the same cultural capital are not guaranteed to get these questions correct, therefore causing them to receive lower grades. Even with preparation courses, many of these answers can’t be learned in a class, they have a lot to do with ones culture and upbringing.  Standardized exams are unfair and create more separation while highlighting the inequalities many individuals face. 

cathyc's picture

2nd perios cons

I agree with this comment because every one is different and everyone comes from a different background or culture. Some parents may raise their children thinking they have taught their kids all the basic information that they need in order to start school or succeed in life. The thing those parents do not know is that the tests have certain questions that the children may not be familiar with because of the limited knowledge their parents had and the fact that the exams are geared toward the upper-middle class and not the working class and lower class. Also, the lower class and working class citizens would not be able to answer the qyestions on the exam to the best of their ability because they would not recognize the content that is on the exam. Then too, the working and lower class do not have as much money as the upper-middle class and that is where socio-economic comes in to play.

MoeshaB's picture

cons of testing

I agree with the con also i would like to add more. I think testing isnt really acurate because not everyone has the attention spand to take test.

RamintaH's picture

2nd Period Con

This is a good response to the Pro argument that testing provides a level playing field.  Standardized testing is not a fair or uniform way to evaluate academic abilities if students are not uniformly adept at test-taking.  Thus standardized tests do not measure academic abilities; they measure how good students are at taking tests and present the scores as if they are measures of academic ability, which they are not.  Essentially, this gives an unfair advantage to students who are good at test-taking and thus does not provide a level playing field or an objective evaluation of ability.

MarkeyceC's picture

2nd period con

I Don't agree with the fact that testing is based on the higher classes and the social classes. I think that the test should be equal

tianac's picture

2nd period pros

I would like to add that even with the arguement that the tests seperate everyone by brains and race, it is up to the student to make most of what they learn. Testing is a great way for them to utilize the things they were taught in a situational manner.

JessicaG's picture

3rd Period Pros

Testing is the best method to assess a student’s abilities in various subject matters that are deemed important to function in society. Although some students may be thought of at a disadvantage (because their teachers did not prepare them for the test or the students are not reading at the grade level required to complete the test to their highest ability), it is a level playing field. Some students are more apt for the math section, resulting in an interest in following a field that focuses on math. Testing not only forges a goal path for those who succeed on the test, but it also shows the students (and the teachers) what a student’s weaknesses are, which may be invaluable to the student-teacher relationship.

FarrahK's picture

3rd Period Pros

Yes, testing provides an equal playing field by giving the same test and valuing the same knowledge. Yes testing does show weaknesses and strengths for students. It should be noted, however, that testing should not lead to tracks, but rather an awareness of how students and schools can thrive in the class by working with their strenghts and weakenesses.

Serendip Visitor's picture

3rd. period Pros

Yes , I agree with you because testing shows someone weakness and strength. Like an example you gave , someone may apt to math than to reading. This shows that , that studenent may be better in math then reading. But this doesn't mean that student cannot or may be able to read. it just shows that they apt to math more. So testing is good

gloudon's picture

3rd Period Pros

To play devil's advocate, if a student is more apt at math, than does a low reading score imply they are not as intelligent as a student who scores well on both the math and reading portions of the test?  

Can a student have multiple intelligences?  

Check out this link about Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/ed_mi_overview.html

gloudon's picture

3rd Period Pros

To play devil's advocate, if a student is more apt at math, than does a low reading score imply they are not as intelligent as a student who scores well on both the math and reading portions of the test?  

Can a student have multiple intelligences?  

Check out this link about Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/ed_mi_overview.html

BarnesK's picture

2nd period Pro

I agree, testing can help teachers identify student's weaknesses and tell them what they already know. Without testing teachers will continue to teach without knowing if their student's do not fully understand the concept. Tracking will group kids base on their abitlities and help them to improve, instead of sitting them in a class with people who learn or improves faster than them.

FarrahK's picture

This is true. It might be

This is true. It might be discouraging for certain groups of students to be with others who improve or learn in a quciker manner than they do. Tracking may help the ones who need help to get more help easily. It also benefits the students who improve and learn qucikly as they can be in a group where their needs are not ignored either. 

RamintaH's picture

2nd Period Con

Making important decisions based on standardized test scores is a problem because it is unclear what exactly the tests are measuring.  They have been supported on the basis of evaluating student ability, teacher capability, or school quality.  However, a student's performance on a standardized test is influenced by all of these factors, among others.  The score does not reflect a pure evaluation of any of these things but a combination of all of them.  If a test is used to test student ability but the students have a particularly bad teacher, their low test scores will not be a fair evaluation of their abilities.  Conversely, student abilities can affect test scores that are meant to evaluate the teacher.

Another problem with using tests to evaluate teachers: teaching to the test does not make the students learn more, nor does it mean the teacher is teaching better.  Quite the opposite, teaching to the test is not the preferred or most effective way to cover material.  Teacher effectiveness should not be negatively affected by the very means of evaluating it.

yecicau's picture

3rd Period Cons

Testing is biased toward those in the upper middle class. Standardized tests are an important factor in reaching a higher education and the skills necessary to do well on the tests are not necessarily skills taught in public schools as we can see by the many students who take SAT prep. classes- which are predominantly the better off white students. This preparation would require additional resources that low socioeconomic students might not have access to, therefore limiting the number of students that can actually receive a higher education. 

Zaneerah Wilson's picture

3rd Period cons

I believe it's all about your enviorment and your family. Where you come from says a lot about who you will become and what your future holds. I Don't understand , a lot about the school district because it's ran completely wrong as if it were made to make us fail. People need to understand that where you are from means that you have different advantages and disadvantages to different things. Education values our different in races. Some parents do not value education as one parent does. That needs to be taken into consideration because it has a lot to do with it. Not to mention the history of black people and not to use that as an EXCUSE. But it plays a huge role in todays society. it's in intersection.

Brandee Jones's picture

3rd Period Con

I Agree that it is biased. If someone is a great student, A's and B's, and then don't do good on a test that doesn't exactly mean their a bad student. Some people stress over test, some people don't do well on test. I think test actually should be for certain people like if you need to touch up on a subject, but if your smart and really know the material and can show it then their is no need to take the test, even smart people are bad at test or have off days.

quadirah lindsay's picture

3rd period cons

Motivation plays an important role in why school/testing is a struggle for most because we as whole are used just settling for less, not being pushed to do greater, or pushed to want to do greater,families are okay with getting 70% on a test or D's on a report card just because there passing, if parents push there children to do beyond whats expected of them, that would be an improvement, but if positive motivation was found in oneself, that would be even greater.

Randall Wilson's picture

I agree public schools is not

I agree public schools is not preparing us for the necessary skills that are tested on standardized test such as the SAT. The stuff in SAT prep can prep you for The SAT so people with low socioeconomic status will not receive that information so they will not produce with the high socioeconomic status students would because the information they're receiving. The more you earn, the more you learn because you have access to further your education.

Tracey's picture

3rd Period Cons

I think that testing is prejudice and is Influence unfairly to invoke favoritism between the upper classmates and the lower classmates, because it just basically points out the start kids from the non start ones. Everybody learns different, from my point of view, like everybody doesn't learns at the same rate so for them to just test out and cause us to separate from each other just because of our knowledge is just wrong and unfair.

Stephon Sessoms's picture

3rd period cons

I believe that test are very biased but teachers are only giving the test to student's so they will be able to find a student weakness. it is important for the teacher to find out the student's weakness so they would be able to help the particular student do better in that subject that they are having trouble with. and also testing is bad because they only place people in groups based on their intelligence and don't really know if that person is smart or not they are just going by what they scored on a test.

ellenv's picture

2nd Period Pro

Standardized testing can be seen as a positive force in education because it provides a necessary level of accountability for teachers, schools, school districts, and states when it comes to providing public education to  students. Because there is so much variability between educational policy across different schools, this testing forces teachers to exhibit that they are teaching to a high quality while at the same time, it allows policy makers to identify teachers that are struggling by comparing them to other teachers that are teaching within a similar context. This hightened level of accountability can be seen as a motivating factor for teachers because it means that they are consistently being evaluated and therefore have to think critically about the effectiveness of their teaching methods.

Serendip Visitor's picture

2nd period pro

To add to this I also think testing is good because it allows the teacher to know who is on track and who needs extra help. I think schools should teach according to whats going to be on the test which I think is far. Colleges mainly look at test scores to determine if they are accepting the student or not. Colleges dont really review the other subjects depending ont their major.

ellenv's picture

2nd Period Pro

You are outlining a good point here: schools, teachers, and students have to realize the reality of the school system as it stands currently and currently, testing plays a large role. It could be argued that if teachers want their students to succeed within the existing educational structure, an emphasis on testing is necessary. It is possible that the con side could argue that this means that there needs to be change in the current system, but you could stress the fact that teachers and students have to face reality even if they desire to create change.

BrianaB's picture

2nd Period Pros

This is very true. I agree with this statement 100%. If there was a standardized test distributed to a class there is a strong possibility that you will see who is struggling in what subject and why and who is strong in that subject and why. Even though students don't have the same upbringing meaning the same ability as others it allows for the students who are not as strong in that subject to have more attention than a student who has no problem on the work.

SoniaG's picture

2nd period pros

I really like the approach that we're outlining here - that testing can be a method for teachers to assess ability only, and then tailor their materials and teaching accordingy.  What if we proposed that standardized testing could become a little less high stakes?  That way, they wouldn't perpetuate some of the negative disparities that the con testing side will highlight.  

SoniaG's picture

2nd Period Pros

Testing is an excellent method of evaluating and motivating students because it is so inherently transparent.  By this I mean that we are accessing raw, unbiased data that paints a very clear picture of student achievement (or lack thereof).  A good test will evaluate material that is necessary for educational and social success, so testing is an efficient way to ensure that these tools are indeed being transmitted to students.  Consequently, this is also one way in which to evaluate teachers and their efficacy.  With testing, students can't hide behind friendships with teachers or money and teachers are immediately confronted with their students' lack of understanding; their scores are what they are.  In short, testing creates an open achievement environment that can easily and efficiently analyzed.

Travon Williams's picture

3rd period pro

I agree with this statement. Income has nothing to do with this. Instead this should give you the initiative to do better and to show everyone that you can do better.This shouldn't deter your reasons for scoring high on tests.Another thing is that there are such things as financial support and scholarships that will help low income students that can't afford schooling.Tracking also helps with behavioral problems.

gloudon's picture

3rd Period Pros

If you are going to make the argument that tracking helps with behavioral problems, what evidence are you going to support your argument with?  Do you think that grouping the students with behavioral problems into one track benifits the other tracks by preventing potential distractions?  Strong arguments need concrete support in the form of examples!

gloudon's picture

3rd Period Pros

If you are going to make the argument that tracking helps with behavioral problems, what evidence are you going to support your argument with?  Do you think that grouping the students with behavioral problems into one track benifits the other tracks by preventing potential distractions?  Strong arguments need concrete support in the form of examples!

Emani Outterbridge's picture

3 Period Pros

I Totally Agree With This Because Testing Shows your Strengths And weaknesses. Testing It gives you and your teachers a chance to strenghten your weaknesses.

gloudon's picture

3rd Period Pros

Ideally, testing works this way.  Instead of thinking about income, think about resources availble to students through their families.  Although resources a school may be equal, resources provided by students families differ depending upon the families income and involvement in the student's life.  Think about what students from different income homes experience and what they are exposed to culturally.  Motivation aside, I think these experiences influence students' performance on standardized tests.  

SoniaG's picture

2nd period pros

I think it's really key that we point out that this is the ideal for testing.  The con side of testing will probably hammer us about why the current testing method is bad, but we need to take the approach that with a proper (ideal) testing methodology, we can get away from all those negative stigmas, and just use testing as a way to differentiate ability.  The logic for tracking follows accordingly then.  If the tests accurately delineate material mastery, then it makes sense that those who have the most mastery should be exposed to different material than those who are still struggling to grasp a concept.  

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