Though new, ISASP perpetuates miopic picture of student learning

Last week, Cedar Falls students joined the many young Iowans in taking the annual state standardized testing. While it used to be called Iowa Assessments, this year the name changed to ISASP—Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress. 

The name wasn’t the only thing changing about the annual test, as this year students took the test on Chromebooks, wiping out the usual method of the paper test.

The home website for The Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress claims that the tests are “developed for the state of Iowa and align with the grade specific Iowa Core standards.”

They also state that “the new English, math and science tests will evaluate students’ skills using a mix of item types including technology-enhanced questions as well as open-ended essay questions.” 

But the fact is that standardized testing is simply not a good measure of anyone’s intelligence. The test offers no feedback to the students who may need improvement within specific subjects. If students can’t learn from the tests that they are taking, what is the point in wasting valuable school time in taking them? Schools are, after all, supposed to be a learning-based environment. 

Instead of high schoolers comparing their individual results against previous years, the district takes this information to evaluate its progress. Superintendents and school officials compare the scores from year to year to see what students can do. 

These test scores should not be the basis of what a school’s curriculum is based around. Administrators should spend more time valuing the opinions and needs of individual students rather than focusing on the results of a one time test. 

Standardized tests like ISASP also fail to take into account the creative portion of a student’s mind. Some of the most in-demand jobs that employers are in desperate need of are positions like hospital managers, nurses and software engineers. All of these jobs require some form of creative thinking and problem solving, qualities that are nearly never tested on state exams.

Schools need to take steps to make hallways an inclusive place with encouragement toward free thinking and individuality instead of making students conform to an age-old standard that has been proven to be ineffective time and time again. The importance of standardized testing is long gone, and there are more effective ways for schools to get a read on their progress without demeaning students into taking a test that fails to recognize what makes them individual.

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