2013. Vol.4, No.10, 633-639
Published Online October 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2013.410091
Copyright © 2013 Sci R e s . 633
Can You Hear Us? Voices Raised against Standardized
Testing by Novice Teachers
Sumita Bhattacharyya*, Mary Junot, Hillary Clark
Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, USA
Received August 2nd, 2013; revised September 2nd, 2013; accepted September 9th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Sumita Bhattacharyya et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cit e d.
The most common criticism of standardized testing is that teachers find themselves “teaching to the test”
instead of teaching the various content and skill areas of the curriculum. In recent years, standardized tests
have become the predominant tool used to determine a student’s progress, to promote or retain a student
at the current grade level, and to identify if a learning disability exists. The main problem with standard-
ized tests is that they inhibit the kind of education that matters the most, preparing young people with
“higher order thinking skills” to compete in a global economy. Does “teaching to the test”, an integral part
of standardized tests, really increase student capabilities and knowledge, or does it simply put more pres-
sure on teachers and students? Teachers want their students to excel on their standardized tests for both
their benefit, as well as the benefit of their students. High scores become even more important because the
school district uses individual school test scores to evaluate each school. In many cases, school ratings are
now linked to funding and teacher evaluation. Novice teachers are the next generation of educators who
will be teaching school children. These enthusiastic, optimistic young professionals have a unique per-
spective that has not been tainted by the educational bureaucracy. In this paper some novice teachers who
were presently teaching voiced their concerns and opinions against standardized tests.
Keywords: Standardized Testing; Must Cover Curriculum; Teaching to the Test; New Teachers’
There has always been some debates about standardized test-
ing and its advantages and disadvantages. These debates raise
several critical questions about the role and value of standard-
ized tests. For instance, is the score on one standardized test a
true assessment of a student’s knowledge and skills? There is
much evidence that proves the opposite. Many experts now say
that standardized testing actually does more harm to the quality
of education that students are receiving (Haney & Lyons, 1993;
Rebora, 2012; Keogh, Pendergast, & Diamond, 2012). The
overwhelming emphasis on testing leads to the neglect of other
dimension of teaching and learning (Shepard, 1991; Wolf, Le-
Mahiue, & Eresh, 1992). The counterargument is that testing is
the only way to accurately assess the education system and
promote reforms. The differences between proponents and op-
ponents have sparked vigorous debates that have created con-
fusing crosscurrent leaving many educators feeling rudderless
(Kumeh, 2011; Wallace, & Irons, 2010).
A standardized test makes assumptions about what every
child is learning and the experiences that have led to that
knowledge. Federal funding is now tied to the No Child Left
Behind (NCLB) Law that sets standards for schools to meet
regarding student progress. Consequently, the schools put a
great deal of importance on the test. The content that is impor-
tant for the test gets special attention in classroom teaching.
Teachers put added stress on those items in order for the stu-
dents to pass the test (Center for Teaching Quality, 2007).
This paper is based on unstructured interviews with an op-
portunistic sample of some school teachers, all of whom have
graduated from teaching college within last three years. Our
purpose is not to conduct a formal survey, but to obtain an un-
derstanding of their experience in implementing of their ex-
perience in implementing the NCLB curriculum. The expertise
of these teachers may or may not be representative of other
teachers’ experience. The study may none the less have signifi-
cance for a wide ranging concern about teaching/learning and
development of student capabilities.
We interviewed eleven teachers, as noted above, all of whom
we described as novice teachers, being in the job for three years
or less. Our reasoning for selecting novice teachers was two-
fold. First, we were aware of the high attrition rate of novice
teachers. Fifty percent leave the teaching career in the very first
year on the job (Herman & Golan, 1993). Does standardized
testing, an essential part of NCLB curriculum, play a role in
such an important decision? This question is prompted by the
observation that, fresh out of college, the novice teachers tend
to believe in the purpose of school education as inculcating
“good” habits and citizenship, and developing sustained capac-
ity for learning. Such a view of education may be frustrated by
*Corresponding au th or.
S. BHATTACHARYYA ET AL.
standardized testing, and may prompt an early exit from the
profession (Center for Teaching Quality, 2007).
Secondly, no curriculum can be successfully implemented
without the teachers enthusiastic commitment to it. We wanted
to get a sense of the teachers’ commitment to NCLB; were they
enthusiastically behind it, or were they implementing it because
they had to do. In the following pages we focus on these two
questions, and their wid er ramification.
NCLB requires satisfactory student achievement in three
academic areas: reading, math and science. The achievement is
measured by standardized testing which is uniformly applied in
all public schools. The test results are computer scored. The
rationale for it is to establish uniform benchmarks of student
achievement. Our teachers are certified of such testing as are
numerous other commentators of NCLB (National Center for
Education Statistics, 2008). We can note right away that the
teachers’ criticisms were echoes of what other critics have been
saying. But hearing them directly from teachers had an affec-
tive immediacy (Sambar, 2001).
Teaching to the Tests
The standardized tests and to score well in them have be-
come an all-consuming force in the schools. On the scores de-
pend the school ranking, in the district, even in and funding
region, and these are widely covered by the media. Persistent
low scores may attract severe penalties for the school. Pressure
builds up in the school board and percolates down to the teach-
ers. The teachers under pressure concentrate on teaching to the
test to better course as well as their own reputation (Wallace &
Irons, 2010). Inevitably this leads to the neglect of other di-
mensions of learning beyond the testing areas. Since the tests
are on reading, math and science other subjects come to be
neglected. Citizenship inculcating “good” habits and develop-
ment of a sustained capacity for learning are given short shrift.
For our interlocutors this is the most dispiriting aspect of
teaching experience. The values they learned in college seem
completely naïve and idealistic in the “real world”.
A second line of criticism is that standardized testing (and
scoring) is insensitive to the diversity of our student population.
The diversity is not only in diverse ethnic and racial back-
grounds. Different socio ethnic backgrounds as well make a
crucial difference (Hedges & Nowell, 1998). Students from
educated families have an advantage. Their parents provide
books and other educational paraphernalia at home. Such fami-
lies’ expectation of their children, and support for them (emo-
tional, aspirational and in various other forms) set them apart
from students of low socio economic and un- or ill-educated
families (Amrein & Berliner, 2002). Differently advantaged or
disadvantaged students call for different approaches to teaching
them. Standardized testing makes them impossible.
Thirdly, standardized testing is insensitive to individual stu-
dents’ learning style. It is well established in learning theories
(Sternberg, 1998) that there are great variation in the way stu-
dents learn. The pressure to teaching to the test and improve
scores disable the teachers to be attentive to such differences.
Teaching to the tests results in standardized teaching. The re-
sulting poor scores of such students may stigmatize capable
students for the rest of their academic lives and the teachers as
well for their “poor” performance (Sternberg, 1998).
Fourthly, not all students do well in tests. Quite capable stu-
dents may do poorly in tests, thus bringing blame on themselves
as well as on their teachers (Wolf, LeMahiue, & Eresh, 1992).
Standardized tests are one of many resources that can be used
to evaluate student progress. When used alone, standardized
tests do not present a clear picture of student knowledge and
skills. One major problem is when teachers begin “teaching to
the test”. Most teachers would say that their main job is to fos-
ter a love for learning (Heubert & Hauser, 1999). Teachers
accomplish this task by encouraging their students to think
critically and take their knowledge and skills outside the class-
room and into adulthood. Standardized test scores promote rote
memorization at the expense of critical thinking skills, pressur-
ing teachers to spend most of their instructional time teaching
testing material (Heubert & Hauser, 1999). Because of the risk
of lower test scores, teachers rarely deviate from testing cur-
riculum even if they have to eliminate other important subject
matter content. As a result those items in the curriculum are
considered “unworthy” and remain uncovered (Ezer, Gilat, &
Sagee, 2010; Hom, 2003).
Implementation of NCLB Policy and the Novice
The novice teachers, relatively fresh out of college, however,
think differently. The concept behind the NCLB policy is that
teachers and schools have to be held accountable for student
learning. The policy-makers assumed that the best way to check
accountability was with standardized testing. The creators of
NCLB justified their reasoning for this assumption because
every student in the state would take identical test and be given
the same instructions thus validating the test results. The goal of
NCLB is to reach 100% reading and math proficiency by 2014.
According to Ezer, Gilat and Sagee (2010) recent graduates
of teacher education programs indicate “that the component
perceived as most important to the teacher’s role is delivering
universal values, followed by educating toward appropriate
behavior and prevention of violence, and developing the pupils’
unique personal abilities” (p. 401). This difference in the per-
ception of the role of teachers may be extremely significant in
the development of our students.
In response to the N CLB policy, one 5th grade science teacher
reported that she was required to “teach to the test” during in-
structional time. As mandated by NCLB, to receive Reading
First funds, requires two hours for reading, math coursework
required one hour of instruction every day. As she expressed “I
feel like my students do not get enough time for science and
social studies. Those subjects get pushed away to the periphery.
We are alway s emphasizi ng math and reading.” She was candid
as she continued to share her feelings on the issue, our scores in
these two subje c t are as m ay be in crea sing bu t we ’ re no t cr ea ting
students who will be adequately prepared to face all kinds of
challenges that our nation is facing, like global warm ing, climate
change, stem cell, or energy issues.
Let’s assume that by emphasizing reading and math, stu-
dents’ scores in the respective areas will increase. But sadly
enough, the National Center for Education Statistics (2008),
should that the increased time spent on reading and mathemat-
ics is not making better readers and mathematicians. For many
children, those who used to engage themselves in activities like
Copyright © 2013 Sci R e s .
S. BHATTACHARYYA ET AL.
reading for their own pleasure no longer choose to do so when
those same activities are extrinsically rewarded (Amrein &
The Reliability and Validity of Standardized Tests
To begin wi th, “ Are stand ardiz ed t ests rel iable ?” America is a
vast country with very diverse cultures. Since standardized
testing is used on a wide variety of children throughout the
nation, it does not take into consid e r ation that “o n e test does not
fit all”. Standards and commonalities within a state are used to
develop standardized tests. The culturally diverse areas and-
common biases in a region are not considered. Even when using
statistical tools to reduc e bias , guarant ees of a bia s-free tes t form
or content is not assured. Yet, despite the built-in bias the tests
continue to be used by testing organizations. Even with differ-
ences in the item content and claims b y test-maker s that the s ame
things are being measured, the result usually produces very
mixedresults (Kumeh, 2011; Poham, 2001).
Amrein & Berliner (2002) reported that despite the ongoing
changes in standardized testing for decades, the structure of the
test has remained the same. High-stakes testing uses multi-
choice formatting with only one correct answer. Therefore, it is
reasonable to believe a student may know the answer, but he or
she may be unable to articulate it in the way that it is written on
the paper. These kinds of test questions do not promote critical
thinking skills and the ability to solve real-world problems.
Instead they promote test specific curriculum using outdated
instructional methods (Kohn, 2004).
Furthermore, this kind of standardized test encourages school
districts to implement rote and drill bundled programs. These
low-level learning experiences lend themselves to more low
income children spending time completing worksheets and
falling further behind the more affluent students who are get-
ting practical experiences that help develop a real understand-
ing of the material (Shepard, 2000).
Several studies have indicated that student assessment should
include various forms of testing, class projects, self-reflections,
research assignment s, demonstrations, and disp lays (Ezer, Gilat,
& Sagee, 2010). A 5th grade teacher insisted that Content re-
lated activities would give a better picture of student under-
standing (Hom, 2003; Neil, 2003; Sambar, 2001). An article by
Anthony Rebora (2012) discusses how many teachers agree that
standardized testing does not portray how much students know.
He states: “Most teachers do not believe standardized tests have
significant value as measures of student performance” (p. 14).
Rebora further explains what teachers believe will accurately
assess student knowledge: “teachers see ongoing formative
assessments, class participation, and performance on class as-
signments as much more important measures of student learn-
ing” (p. 14).
Standardized tests are only objective in terms of scoring, be-
cause they are machine tallied. The type of test, the content and
structure, the number of test items, the choice of the right re-
sponse, the instructions given, and the test results and their use
are all decisions made by subjective administrators (Boser,
2000). Therefore, how can standardized tests be truly labeled as
Additionally, non-instructional factors play an important role
in student achievement on standardized tests. Standardized tests
tend to overlook family home situations, parents’ educational
backgrounds, communities, and poverty rates, in an attempt to
put all students on equal education levels (Sambar, 2001). Po-
ham (2001) argues that standardized assessments measure gen-
eral knowledge that is gained in most middle-and upper-class
homes where resources are readily available. Similarly, a nov-
ice English teacher noted that “... standardized tests are just so
unfair. The students I teach from high- and middle-class fami-
lies have more knowledge and skills than my students from
low-income families. It became obvious that standardized test
scores are comparable to technology in the home and the avail-
ability of books”.
A standardized test is said to be completely reliable only if
the results are the same the next time the test is taken. But an
individual’s score on a standardized test can change each time
the test is taken due to the student’s physical, mental, or emo-
tional state. This leads to inaccurate student test scores (Boser,
The next question is how valid are these tests? Standardized
test results have major implications in a student’s present life
and possibly future career—all from one test score. Schrag
(2000) reports that there are many variables determine a stu-
dent’s test score. The particular test, how many times a student
takes that test, whether test instructions are complete, and the
comfort of the test setting are a few of the variables that can
influence a test score. When asked the teacher who is in her 2nd
year of teaching became emotional School achievement is a
function of different factors. Only certain parts are under the
influence of schools but not all. “... Schools can influence the
quality or quantity of instruction, motivation and positive
learning environment. But how about their family and home
environment? The standardized scores don’t consider the com-
plexity of achievement. Thus standardized scores lack in proper
interpretation. It practically oversimplifies the nature of the
Do standardized tests accurately measure our students’ level
of ability or does coaching to improve these test scores taint the
validity of the results? As we understand it, the general purpose
of standardized testing is not to measure on what level a student
can read, but the student’s comprehension of the given material.
The test is merely an instrument of instruction, and should not
be the focus of the evaluation. But the problem comes in when
standardized tests are used to determine curriculum. The proc-
ess of preparing the students for the test reduces the time avail-
able for instruction and narrows the curricular topics and
methods of instruction. This in turn limits the instructional ma-
terials that a teacher can use especially if they are not similar to
standardized testing formats. Studies suggest that even though
test scores tend to improve when students are “taught the test”,
the overall level of student learning does not improve (Shepard,
2000; Smith & Fey, 2000). Tenth grade teacher in her 2nd year
expressed the same frustration, “Unfortunately we feel helpless
in making changes. We will lose our job or government funding
if the NCLB Acts are not satisfied.” Seventh grade teacher in
his 3rd year of teaching said the same thing but in a different
way. He said, “School administrators engage the staff for a few
times in a year discussing ways to improve test scores, publicly
let teachers know how their students performed compared to
other. Thus we feel intimidated.”
As a result, it is becoming increasingly questionable as to the
validity of standardized testing.
Despite the perceived invalidity of the tests, testing is con-
tinued due to our society’s desire to measure education. Teach-
ers are motivated to engage students in the learning process in
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S. BHATTACHARYYA ET AL.
the classroom. To accomplish this task, teachers must involve
students in a variety of learning activities where they can to
apply the knowledge learned, an important assessment tool
(Kulm & Stuessy, 1992). However, as stated by the National
Center for Fair and Open Testing (2007), standardized tests are
not evaluating these skills. Since instruction is based on what is
expected in standardized tests, students are not learning real-life
skills needed for success in post-secondary institutions and the
workplace. But the standardized multiple choice test costs less
than the standardized essay writing test. The reason is obvious.
Further research by Amrein and Berliner (2002) indicated
standardized testing is not the answer to improved testing
scores. After analyzing data from 18 states where high-stakes
testing was implemented, in all but one case, there was no sig-
nificant increase in scores. Additionally, in one case the scores
actually fell. This supports what some researchers believe, stan-
dardized tests yield few benefits to student learning while ne-
glecting higher-order thinking skills. One novice teacher ex-
pressed the same concern, “I ask them to look at the answer
options to the question and then ask them to look for the answer
from the text book. This backward strategy is really working
for me and my students also feel confident.” Neil (2003) also
reported similar cases where he found that students did not
remember what they had read, even though they may have re-
sponded correctly to the test item, indicating once again the
unreliability of the test scores. This is an indication of a lack of
basic skills needed for success after high school.
The purpose of having high standards is that not everyone
will meet the standard. Nonetheless, schools get frustrated
when all of their students are unable to improve their scores
(Sambar, 2001). Kohn (2004) explains that the standardized
tests are norm-referenced, and therefore were never intended to
measure the quality of a student’s education. These tests are
meant to, and should, rank students amongst one another, not
rate their content knowledge. As a result, standardized tests are
refocusing classroom attention to test-taking skills (The Na-
tional Center for Fair and Open Testing, 2007).
The Value of Standardized Testing
Do these high stake academic standardized tests have any
redeeming value? Do they accurately assess student learning
with improved curricular choices? Linn and Herman (1997)
complained that the students are taught to master test taking
skills and are coached on the competencies measured on the
exam. This leads one to wonder where the students will learn
the rest of the educationally important but untested information.
Will removing these vital skills from being taught in the class-
room in order to spend more time teaching test competencies be
a wise long-term decision? Some teachers now feel as if they
will be held personally liable for the testing results. Logically,
every teacher any student has ever had should be held equally
responsible since learning is a building process. However, this
degree of liability could never be measured. Instead, the
“blame-game” would ensue.
Cheating: Who to Blame?
Evidence from an extensive study conducted by Smith (1991)
suggested that standardized tests raise the anxiety level of edu-
cators because of public notification, and sometimes parent
ridicule, of school test scores. Since teachers are under so much
stress to keep their jobs many of them are quitting. Lou Anne
Johnson (2011) describes the reasons why teachers are quitting
when she states, “They quit because they expect to teach, not
shuffle endless paperwork, and spend weeks of their ‘free’ time
learning how to teach to the test” (p. 29). Teachers think the
standardized tests are used against them especially when their
students receive a low rank on the test. Wallace and Irons (2010)
confirm that belief by stating “school accountability and teacher
effectiveness are often measured through student performance
on high stakes tests” (p. 166). In addition, novice teachers are
leaving the profession because they lack classroom resources,
parental support, and professional development that all affect
testing outcomes (Keogh, Garvis, Pendergast, & Diamond,
2012). Another novice teacher who is in her 2nd year high
school chemistry teacher notes, “... school test rankings and
scores are publicized to parents, local media outlets, on the
internet, and throughout the school district. If the scores don’t
indicate improvement, the school’s reputation is at risk. It can’t
help but raise a teacher’s anxiety level. Recently we read in a
newspaper that a teacher was caught while helping students
with the answers during the test. The teacher was fired. Who is
Are we placing such a high emphasis on these tests that
teachers and school administrators are forced to cheat in order
to save their jobs? Nationwide, stories indicating tampering
with tests have been popping up in the news. After Michelle
Rhee started “tying student scores to principals’ and teachers’
employment,” one school in Washington DC was suspected of
changing students’ test scores in order to show improvement.
Although this cheating dates back to 2008, some of the details
in the case were just recently released. The principal of the DC
school was walking by an office when she saw three staffers
with students’ test booklets. The principal “noticed that the
erasers were down and the pencil points were up.” She told her
superiors about the situation and was quickly urged to stay
quiet and to “respect the legacy that had been built [at their
school]” (Toppo, 2013).
There have been prominent cheating scandals in other cities
as well. Schools in Atlanta, Georgia have been under investiga-
tion for several years. Recently, a once prominent National
Superintendent of the Year, Beverly Hall, and other Atlanta
school professionals were indicted by a grand jury. At first
glance, one might wonder how such a prominent woman, as
well as her colleagues, could be involved in a test-tampering
scandal. One theory is that the educators cheated to reap finan-
cial rewards associated with higher student test scores (Brum-
back, 2013). Teachers at a school in Brooklyn, NY, were also
accused of cheating in a similar fashion in May of 2012
(Morales, 2012). Furthermore, in an article titled “California
Education Rankings: 23 Schools Stripped of API Ratings for
Cheating” (2012) the Huffington Post reported that the Califor-
nia Department of Education took action against schools sus-
pected of cheating and exhibiting questionable test results. With
so much on the line for standardized test scores, what can we
really expect from our teachers and administrators? Are some
of them merely cheating so that their low-income schools will
get the proper funding they need to succeed?
Who Is Hurt the Most by These Practices
Our next question is who is hurt the most by these practices?
The numbers indicate that students from low-income and mi-
Copyright © 2013 Sci R e s .
S. BHATTACHARYYA ET AL.
nority-groups suffer the most from high-stakes testing through
failure to pass to the next grade level and remediation programs.
They are subjected to curriculum using rote memorization and
practice drills, the same outdated teaching methods that got
them to this point. Then we wonder why so many low-income
and minority groups suffer from low self-esteem and in many
cases fail to graduate from high school (Hom, 2003). Con-
versely, upper and middle income white students are often
guided to higher level coursework and honors programs where
more current teaching methods are implemented to enhance
critical thinking skills. Hom (2003) believes that minority
groups, culturally diverse populations with limited English
language skills, and those students with learning disabilities
suffer the most as a result of high-stakes testing.
With all these questions, should we continue to use state-
mandated high-stakes testing to determine student knowledge
and progress? Studies have found that although narrowed over
time, substantial differences in test scores still exist (Hedges &
Nowell, 1998; Madaus, & Clarke, 2001). Lower level and mi-
nority students are affected the most by the added pressure put
on teachers to increase test scores. A ninth grade science
teacher teaching in an inner city school said, “the norm-refer-
enced tests, although well-intentioned, give a distinct advantage
to upper and middle-class students whose parents tend to be
well educated themselves. This leaves minority students, less
likely to come from homes where education is valued and re-
sources are available, to fail required exit examinations and
dropout of school before graduation.”
If states continue to support high-stakes testing as the only
method to access student knowledge and growth, the results
will be devastating. For example, Hedges and Nowell (1998)
report that the percentage of African Americans with high stan-
dardized test scores is under represented when compared to
other races and remains the same even after years of mandatory
testing. Similarly, Madaus and Clarke (2001) documented that
the average proficiency for White students was four years
ahead of African American performance and that Hispanic
performance continued to lag behind the White student popula-
tion (Hedges & Nowell, 1998). They pointed out that “test
score differences between Whites and minorities may be real.
But inability to measure the other predictors of performance, on
which Blacks and Hispanics seem to be far less disadvantaged,
poses a huge social problem” (p. 162).
Americans like tests so much that they have gradually struc-
tured society around them. For many children, the testing phe-
nomenon begins in their early school career. Head Start chil-
dren are tested before entry into the four-year old’s program.
Kindergartners are tested to see if they are ready to begin
school. Before entering first grade, students are already on the
testing roller coaster. Why are we so obsessed with standard-
ized tests? Some policy makers believe that a number is not a
true indicator of knowledge gained (Sternberg, 1998). But this
syndrome is very common in our society. Parents want their
children to succeed in school and not be at the bottom of the
class. If their children are experiencing learning difficulties,
parents expect the school system to address the issue and bring
up their child’s test score (Haney, Madaus & Lyons, 1993).
However, with any ranking, someone has to be at the top and
someone has to be at the bottom.
The problem is not in the tests themselves but in how radi-
cally the results are used. Strauss (2006) made an interesting
observation: “Why is it that no one questions the validity of
standardized test scores when the results are high? Only when
the scores are low do people start questioning the effectiveness
of the school staff” (p. A09). The point is that there are no easy
solutions when it comes to standardized testing. Another novice
teacher shared his thoughts using a metaphor “to give a real-life
example of how unreliable a one-time high-stakes test is. Think
about a doctor who is trying to treat a patient. Would the doctor
use the results from one test to determine treatment for the pa-
tient or would he examine the issue thoroughly and order a
battery of tests to determine a treatment plan?”
Although standardized testing was issued with good inten-
tions, very few can argue that it has yielded the intended effects.
The push for standardized testing has gotten stronger, but have
there been any positive results? As of 2012, the US educational
programs ranked 17th out of 50 other countries. The US was
out-ranked by Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Sin-
gapore, the UK, Canada, and Germany, to name a few. From
these results it is interesting to note that the country that placed
first, Finland, has been the most out-spoken against standard-
ized testing. Finland, along with many other countries, has in-
stead put an emphasis on having good teachers and trusting
those teachers with their students’ academic growth (Gayathri,
2012). The cultures which respect teachers and place education
high on their priority list are performing better in the classroom
and producing thoughtful students and citizens for the progress
their country. Gayathri (2012) also noted that “Having a better
[teacher] is statistically linked not only to higher income later in
life but to a range of social results, including lower chances of
teenage pregnancy and a greater tendency to save for their own
retirement.” If better teachers are what we need, why are we
instead focusing our attention on standardized test scores? Why
don’t teachers have a strong support system to help them pursue
challenging goals, persevere in the classroom, and cope with
adverse conditions (Clark, 2012; Darvin, 2012)? The typical
standardized test does not only deter students from learning, but
deters teachers from teaching and actually causes many novice
teachers to quit the profession (Darvin, 2012).
In this paper we have not tried to evaluate the grounds for the
novice teachers’ antipathy to the NCLB Curriculum. It would
seem obvious however if test scores are the only measure to
determine teacher accountability, test scores are bound to be-
come the teacher’ sole concern especially for the novice teach-
ers concern about their reputation and performance. Teaching
to the test is the natural result which leads to the neglect non
testing areas thus gravely limiting the scope of learning. What-
ever their validity the novice teachers concerns should be
heeded by policy makers. Testing has not given conclusive
evidence of bettering student performance. The evidence is
quite mixed: students from low socio economic families con-
tinue to lag behind students of higher income families (Amrein,
& Berliner, 2002; Hedges & Nowell, 1998). Indeed in some
areas the testing has made performance worst. This raises a
very important issue. The burden and responsibility for im-
proving our children learning have mostly fallen on the teachers,
with little policy attention to multitude of other factors that
impinge on education (Clark, 2012).
Finally by removing the high stakes from standardized tests
may stop temptation to cheat and return testing to its original
and diagnose rightfully where schools and students need im-
Copyright © 2013 Sci R e s. 637
S. BHATTACHARYYA ET AL.
provement (Brumback, 2013).
Thus, the debate about the advantages and disadvantages of
standardized testing will rage on for years, and considering the
numerous stake holders in academic preparation and presenta-
tion, we see no end in sight. Unfortunately, neither educators
nor politicians can agree on how to incorporate other forms of
assessment to create a better balance for ranking students.
Standardized testing in the classroom is here to stay for the long
term (Linn & Herman, 1997).
In conclusion, we want to emphasize that teachers’ concern
should be taken very seriously in formulating our education
policies. Teachers are the front line workers in the education
enterprise. In crucial respect our future lies in their hands. Their
feedback should be a major ingredient in any revision or ad-
justment of NCLB. Their job dissatisfaction has been a major
cause of high attrition rate among Novice teachers (Ezer et al.,
2010). As they leave their teaching jobs after a small number of
years, they are replaced by fresh batch of novice teachers, many
of whom also quit teaching after short number of years (Center
for Teaching Quality, 2007). We may thus be depriving our-
selves of genuinely gifted high quality teachers, those who are
not happy abou t teaching to the test (Clark, 2012).
The question we thus face here is, as a country, are we pre-
pared to say that hiring the best teachers will be our top priority?
Or will we always instead put our emphasis and money towards
standardized testing? Classrooms in which “teaching to test”
takes priority over “learning to learn” will not create a positive
learning environment. However, if our society is not prepared
to do away with standardized testing, we must at least make its
conditions better. The first step would be to make the teachers
confident about the test. Information on content specifications
is essential for teacher preparation. It is imperative to provide
teachers with a clear description of knowledge and skills of
specific content standards asked in the test. Test makers must
include all stake holders—instructional specialists, curriculum
developers, and most importantly, the teachers. The curriculum
developers and the teachers together should prioritize the im-
portant skills that the students should learn and what will be
tested. Finally, there should be a panel of reviewers who will
rigorously examine the appropriateness of the test.
In today’s competitive world, we are constantly being evalu-
ated in our home life, our employment, and by society in gen-
eral. Being judged has become the norm. Do we ever stop to
think about whether a “number” is the most important thing in
life? It seems that more effort should be focused on our knowl-
edge and skills and how we use these resources to lead produc-
tive, fulfilling lives with our families, our coworkers, and the
larger society to which we contribute.
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