Stepping on taks

Don’t Wait for Me! What comes to mind when someone says the word “ tacks”? Some may think of the dreadful sum of money deducted from their monthly paycheck. Perhaps, for other people, the word conjures ideas of a sharp yet useful needles often left on the floor after the fall of a wall hanging.

For students in Texas, TAKS is worse than both concepts combined. It is the promotional standard determining their intelligence, skills, and future. The TAKS test- Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills- is a product of the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind Act. At the time of George Bush’s presidency, he noticed a flagrant number of high school graduates without basic reading or math skills. Thus, with the help of his administration, he put together a new law mandating each child in a public school to take a standardized test. Suddenly, the entire school system grew dependent on this one exam.

Failure to meet the test’s standards meant getting a school closed, a teacher fired, or even keeping a student from graduation. If administered properly, having a state-regulated exam may prove beneficial and necessary to schools. These tests encourage schools to compete for the best scores, therefore motivating children and teachers alike to work extra hard and study; however, the amount of pressure and stress placed on one exam is irrational. Such a test should only serve as one factor when it comes to promoting a child, especially if records show them as otherwise good students. America’s education system has molded its schools to revolve around standardized testing. Even if a student makes straight A’s in their core subjects, has perfect attendance, but fails their state test, their promotion to the next grade is still in jeopardy.

If the lucky child moves on, the school may revoke their elective and replace it with a remediation class. Recently, the government included a new section on standardized testing scores. The most infuriating box says a student’s likelihood of passing next year’s assessment. There is no greater crime than telling someone to expect failure. Countless students work hard every day, yet don’t grasp the subject at hand. For these kids, the section of the scores is merely a self-esteem blower.

Despite the destructive aspects of standardized testing, it isn’t impossible to turn the experience into a positive one. Rather than putting one’s future at stake, we could simply give students an annual test with no consequences on their part. Perhaps each district can provide a small incentive to excel, but discard the threat of retaining students. The test should do nothing except tell the nation where a school resides academically and only affect our curriculum for the better. This would relieve the majority of the stress and give teachers more room to go in depth on important topics they only have time to brush over right now.

Currently, standardized testing is nothing more than a tack on the floor. Its there for students to step on by mistake and get hurt emotionally and academically. As the greatest nation in the world, we must refuse to stand for this. It is our duty to ensure every new person gets a fair shot in the world despite their different talents or lack of talents. If we forfeit this opportunity to a single test, we abandon everything America stands for.