Domino Effect

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In my time here at Chapel Hill, I have learned a lot about our educational system as a whole. One thing that I have learned is the issues that standardized testing has caused for the majority of the people I am surrounded by. One effect that I hadn’t noticed until I got to college is the harm that only 2 subject focused testing has on students. Throughout my elementary and middle school years, teachers focused mainly on the two subject areas that would be tested, reading and math. I never gave much thought to this, but it was putting me and my peers at a disadvantage in college.

This may seem like a leap, but I really do see the effects of this here at UNC. Due to the serious targeted teaching towards reading and math in the early years of my education, there has been a lack of focus on sciences, the arts and various other subject areas. Coming to college, I feel like the majority of students I encounter have noticed this effect in their education as well. I and many other students have likely never encountered some of the subjects that are available to take courses in while at college. I feel that this lack of exposure to these subject areas is putting students at a disadvantage. Students are not “college ready” because of this. Despite the beliefs that policy makers may have about testing, reading and math are not the only skills someone needs to thrive in the real world. While, they are important skills to have, they aren’t the only abilities someone needs to have in order to get a job or succeed in the real world.

Students need to be able to communicate effectively with people they encounter in their work places. They need to be able to interact with people who may have differing views than them. They need to understand the importance of the arts, history, politics, and sciences. Starting early with only reading and math as a main focus leads to students believing that these are the most important skills. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While reading and math are important and very necessary, this only 2 subject area focused education is not reflective of what life is like after high school and even after college.

I’ve noticed that many of my peers struggle to make decisions on majors or career options because of the lack of exposure that they have with areas other than math and english. I myself have experienced some of this same confusion and difficulty in deciding on which classes to take, etc. I find it hard to know if I may be interested in learning about x y and z due to my lack of experience with these subject areas in the past. I feel that in general standardized testing needs to be reformed due to the stress that it causes for students.  I also feel that if we are going to continue having these types of tests, that they should not dominate the things we teach students in school. Teaching to the test has several negative effects, this is just one of them, that is fairly long term. I feel that my personal experiences and observations of this effect illustrate the domino effect that is created in education.

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One Response to Domino Effect

  1. Annie R says:

    Thank you for sharing! I had a rather similar experience coming into college. I knew I was good at reading and wasn’t the biggest fan of math but other than that I knew very little about the many degrees and career options I could choose from at university. At times I felt incredibly frustrated by my lack of background knowledge, or the feeling that I was unqualified to take a class that interested me but that I knew next to nothing about. I completely agree that these tests “should not dominate the things we teach students in school.” The focus on math and reading, while important, is a very narrow focus on a broad range of subjects and skills students need to have to be competent and successful members of the workforce. I found it incredibly stressful to decide what I wanted to study and I know some people who were not able to handle the pressure of the transition from high school to college, which is incredibly unfortunate. I think schools need to stop focusing solely on testing and mostly on the subjects of math and reading, instead they need to diversify what student are learning before college so they have the confidence and skills to explore the many options that are available to them post-graduation.

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