Proficiency Testing
Proficiency tests are given to a student three times during their school years. Once in fourth grade, another in ninth, and a final time in twelfth grade. I do not feel that these tests reflect a student's true ability. Proficiency testing is not a good measurement of a student's ability because it stifles creativity, some students may be terrible test takers, and it is very easy for a student to exempt out of it.
Creativity is a very important part of school. Teachers have their own style of teaching and students all learn in different ways. The proficiency tests have forced teachers to teach students only the areas that are on the proficiencies. Their curriculum is based around what questions will be asked on the test and they can not focus on other sections they feel may be important. It also suppresses students learning ability because they must adhere to the guidelines of learning what is on the proficiencies. Also, if a student answers the question right by their way of thinking, but the proficiencies mark it wrong because they do not take into account a student may have a different way of figuring out the answer.
Another reason the proficiencies do not reflect a students ability is that there are students who are not good at taking standardized tests. They may have been having a bad day or they may just get nervous when taking a test. There have also been teachers who have not been able to pass a section of the proficiency test. If the teacher can not even pass the test, it is hard to believe that a student will be able to pass the test. It is very easy for a student to have a high IQ and not pass the test. A student may also be gifted in other areas such as art, which is not tested on the proficiencies.
In addition, a student can exempt out of the proficiencies for a various number of reasons. In fourth grade, a note is required from a child's parents and they do not have to take the test. In later grades, there are stricter enforcements but still not everyone has to take the test. Reasons may range from being physically handicapped or mentally retarded. Only the average student takes the test so when results come out they really do not reflect the entire student body. Some students do not care if they pass or not because the ninth grade one is the only test that you must pass to graduate. In the twelfth grade, many students fill in bubbles and leave as soon as possible.
In conclusion, proficiency tests do not fairly measure a student's capability because they repress creativity, are partial to those who are good at standardized test taking, and do not take into account all students. There are some positive aspects of the proficiency tests. There are also many changes coming about that may make the proficiencies a better assessment of a student's ability in the future.