RUNNING HEAD: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF STANDARDIZED TESTING 1
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF STANDARDIZED TESTING 11
The Psychology of Standardized Testing
In this paper I will explain how high stakes standardized testing can negatively impact elementary aged students psychologically and the unnecessary pressure that testing places on them. Putting young students who are still developing under large amounts of stress or pressure can cause permanent damage that will affect them for the rest of their lives. These tests have been shown to cause chronic stress in children, especially young children. This chronic stress can cause issues in brain development, specifically in the HPA Axis. Because standardized testing has been tied to federal funding since the JFK administration, testing is unlikely to go away. Testing in the United States is so high stakes because the future of schools and teachers rest on test scores. Putting that much pressure on a test results in a narrower curricular and a strict time schedule to focus on test material neglecting to teach important emotional and social skills to children. It is dangerous to put this amount of pressure on children, and the United States needs to move fast to find an alternative to the traditional form of standardized testing.
Standardized testing has been part of the American education system since the early 1900s. It has grown in importance significantly since then and now begins for students at a much earlier age. In 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act was passed asking schools to assess students in reading and math from the third through the eighth grade. While these types of assessments are not mandatory, they are linked to the federal funding a school receives. This funding effectively guarantees that standardized testing will be used in all public schools. The average student spends between 20 and 25 hours taking standardized tests each year. Between the first and twelfth grade, students are required to take around 112 standardized assessments. Not only is testing becoming more frequent, but testing is becoming more high-stakes. Students scores on standardized testing is linked to funding, educator’s jobs, and school ranking making students outcomes more high-stakes for teachers and administrators. The more weight that is put on these tests, the more the test affects students psychologically. High stakes testing causes more testing anxiety in students, which can lead to chronic stress. This type of pressure can lead to developmental brain damage. Brain development isn't the only aspect that can be stunted by high stakes testing. Testing can stunt the overall growth of a child. The more importance placed on standardized testing, the more ability it gains to harm students. This type of pressure should not be set on such young children. High stakes standardized testing causes lifelong psychological damage to a young student who is subjected to it....