Standardized testing: the debate continues

Katherine G. Krajcik – Special to the Southern News 

Cram, memorize, regurgitate and then forget.

This learning method is unfortunately becoming more common as teaching methods dwindle, assessment methods narrow in scope, and standardized tests increase.

“College means life-long learning, not just memorization and then regurgitating the information back to pass a test,” said Marie DiFrancesco, a professor in the Communication department for over 30 years.

“I am not saying that students should never be tested for their level of knowledge, but sometimes tests are only measuring students’ abilities to hastily cram and memorize facts and figures for the short term, instead of authentically engaging and retaining for the long term,” Difrancesco said.

In classes like professor DiFrancesco’s, students are required to engage and apply what they learn, even if it is on their own time.

In some classes though, professors can tend to forget about switching up their teaching styles.

Hadley Whitaker, sophomore special education collaborative major, is struggling in a class this semester because she has a professor that lectures the whole time and does not engage in discussion.

“I am a visual and kinesthetic learner and I personally do not think it is fair. As a student in the Education department, we are constantly reminded that differentiated learning is key in order to have each and every concept retained by every student,” Whitaker said.

It is not only important for professors to be aware that teaching and assessment methods need to vary, but it is important for the federal government to be aware too.

DiFrancesco said, “The problems surfacing in college come from high school where teachers are required to ‘teach to the test.’”

This is why there are critics of the Common Core State Standards in Connecticut.

These standards, according to, “…are a set of academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy that are grounded in evidence and designated to ensure that all students have the academic knowledge and skills they need in these core subjects to succeed after high school.”

It is a wonderful concept, but the amount of assessments that come with it can create the habitual habit of cramming for a test, which in turn be carried with the student into college.

Many students do not prefer assessments, especially cramming for one–and with finals around the corner, the cramming method is really starting to surface.

Josh Rascati, senior exercise science major said, “The Chemistry department has a standardized test and you’re expected to know all of the information by the end of the semester no matter how many classes you have. I do not agree with that because of all of the unfortunate snow days. It is not easy to gather all of that information on your own unless you are an intrinsic learner.”

If students did not waste as much time preparing for standardized tests, they could be reading material out of class more and in turn retain more information the next time that they go to class.

“I had a Biomechanics professor, Dr. Adam Gregory, and he has told us that when you prepare for class,” said Rascati, “you’re going to be able to go more in-depth about what you are learning.”

Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas

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