Keep it easy to pass Ohio’s standard tests

Jeff Smith and Jeff Smith

Last week, a report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, titled “The Proficiency Illusion,” was released. The report stated how Ohio’s proficiency in standardized tests (established by the No Child Left Behind Act) may be because Ohio requires a lower passing score than other states. Basically that means instead of needing a score of six to pass a standardized test, students in Ohio only need a score of four. However, I don’t think Ohio’s lower requirements for a passing score is a bad thing for a few reasons.

The first is that the NCLB Act has “handcuffed teachers”. Anytime you are forced to teach someone to learn a test rather than to learn and apply the material, you’re setting the child up for failure later in life. With that said, not every child learns the same way, but teachers are being forced to teach like everyone does.

Legitimately smart children are being thrown under a bus and are not able to show how smart they are due to the narrow view of what constitutes a “normal” child by NCLB standards. In addition, special education students are being punished as well. They are thrown into the same category with the future valedictorian. Some of these children may never get past an eighth-grade reading level their whole lives, but teachers are forced to teach them like they will.

This leaves special education students with a huge disadvantage, not only with standardized tests, but also with learning in general. Lower requirements for passing these standardized tests allows the teacher to prepare a student for further education without worrying as much if the student can pass an exam.

Second, if school districts don’t pass these standardized tests, they are hit with sanctions. How is a teacher supposed to provide a student with an education when the school district can’t afford new books because of a test score? This is my biggest complaint with NCLB. Instead of punishing school districts with low test scores, shouldn’t NCLB be doing something to help them? By having the bar set lower for passing these exams, Ohio is able to give federal money to schools districts that need it.

Finally, imagine you are in third grade. Every year for the next six years, you will take a standardized test. Then, in 10th grade, you have to take another test to see if you will graduate from high school. All the while, the only thing that you are learning is the material on the exam. Then let’s say you go to college, a place where you have to apply knowledge, not learn how to pass an exam. How well do you think you will do? In college, the fact that 2+2=4 in a math problem isn’t important; the reason behind why 2+2=4 is what’s important now.

The University is home to the largest education program in Ohio and is considered among one of the elite programs in the nation. Needless to say, a lot of great teachers come from here. However, the way the NCLB stands now, the teachers who come from the University aren’t able to share their knowledge and educate students because they are forced to teach an exam. This is why Ohio should be applauded for having lower requirements for passing standardized tests.

Lower requirements for standardized testing allows teachers to pass on knowledge to students and prepare them for continued education. It also allows teachers to accommodate students who learn differently by presenting information in new ways. To say every child learns the same and a child’s knowledge is based on a test score rather than application of material isn’t logical – it’s an illusion.