What’s Standardized about Standardized Testing?

As a student who has been a member of the educational system for over 17 years, reading “Competition, education and assessment: connecting history with recent scholarship” was almost like reading an inner monologue. As if someone had catalogued exactly what me and all my peers had experienced and validated it. Education is an inescapable phenomenon and at no point does our education end. Nelson and Dawson’s evaluation of education in this paper lends itself to formative review of competition in history and suggests long term reconstruction of the educational system.

Much like Werron’s detailed historical review of economic history, this article deeply analyzes how education developed into a competitive process. Werron’s article divides into multiple sections the process in which economics became competitive. This article has done the same travelling across different time periods to find examples of competition. Although the examples in this article are not closely related to education in a direct correlation, they still contribute to the own individual overall arguments. For this article, specifically that although competition does have an inherent nature it can be controlled and benefited from rather than allowing it to negatively affect education. This leads to the counterargument that we can do the inverse, to slowly make education less competitive other time.

Furthermore, not unlike that of Bateson’s article, the authors choose to reference multiple different sources of all different varieties. Bateson mentions a biblical story, references nature, and several anecdotal pieces of evidences to support her conclusion. In contrast, this article chooses to reference more grounded literary evidence but still of the same varied nature. To mention few, the authors allude to romantic literature such as Isabella and Rocco, and competitive painting in Florence between Donatello and Brunelleschi, and more modern examples of the theory of genius by Nietzsche. The similarities serve different purposes, varied evidence for Bateson suits her audience of cultural anthropologists, during her speech these varieties all contribute to her conclusion. The use of all these varied sources here allows for the author to show the applicability of the solution on all aspects of education and how differently competition developed in the wide classification that is education.

For many students, standardized testing and college acceptances sum up senior year. Stressing over your inability to sit in a room to do a test, possibly not in your first language, could be stressful and will not usually yield the same results as a student taking the test in New Jersey. For many, this competition has been deemed invalid. Although the argument to cancel standardized testing is strong, the strongest rebuttal seems to be that there would be no way to rank individuals without them. Therefore, this argument, summed up by my college Tiffany, makes the most sense “the key here is to find a healthy balance between cooperation and competition, by organizing a sustainable form of competition”, no change to the educational system we have grown to be so dependent on can come over night, but living with the one we use today just won’t do.

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