Are You the Monkey, Elephant, or Fish?

Students will always moan and groan about standardized testing. But is it because they don’t feel like sitting through a two hour test, or because they know they won’t do well, or are they just fed up with the standardization of current school systems? A major flaw of  the typical, public school system can be illustrated with one of Albert Einstein’s most famous analogies. He once stated “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

So say that a monkey, an elephant, and a fish are all in a line. They are about to take a placement test to see what their rank will be among the other animals in their environment. The facilitator says, “Now go climb a tree… that’s your test.” Who will be looked at as the “AP Scholar” or the “King of the jungle?” Who will be looked at as the “Special ED Student?”  Although the test seems fair because it asks each animal to do the same exact thing, in reality one or more will always have an advantage. Neither the fish, nor the elephant know how to climb a tree, at least not as well as the monkey; that is the monkey’s strong spot and will get an easy , “Outstanding!” and the elephant, “Good!” and fish a sad, “Try again next time”

Standardizing the curriculum will do one of two things. First, it will force the students to be on the same level, whether the subject being taught is their strong suit or not. Second, it will falsely assess the students who want to work hard and wish to do well but cannot help but fail because of their struggles in learning from specific teaching methods.

“Standardized testing is not an effective way to measure student achievement. Teachers are taught to differentiate their instruction as much as possible, but at the same time told that they and their students will only be judged on their standardized test scores. Thus teachers are forced to teach to the test if they want to be judged as proficient and have their students viewed as good students.” Said a City Schools representative.

Often times this particular way of testing is seen as an injustice to children with less privileged backgrounds. It is common for administrations, who sponsor these tests, to focus on results from the more privileged school districts. Those who live in poverty stricken areas are often too vaguely judged despite their absence of obvious resources. In many cases, there is not enough awareness about the difference the availability of opportunities. One cannot assess a group of students in a standardized way, if their backgrounds are not. In order to succeed in our prestigious academic system, one must have the right tools do so, and when distributing these regulated tests that tends to be overlooked.

Therefore, I think I can speak for many others when I say that if the “Common Core” continues to be apparent within the school systems, all students should be given the proper skills and preparatory guidelines to ensure that everyone has an equitable chance at success despite the school he or she attends or grades he or she has received. If one would like to level the playing field, he or she must consider all parties. Until this opportunity is implemented in the school system as a requirement, it is not fair nor can it be justified to involve all parties that are not properly prepared.

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