Rebuttal — Shazammm

To My Objectors

It has been proven over the past decades that theater is a beneficial instrument to helping kids reach their full potential in classrooms and social settings. However, there are still school boards in America that do not prioritize the arts in academia. Instead, they evaluate children on their standardized test scores rather than their participation in extracurricular activities. In lieu of assessing raw talent and social skills, school boards analyze their students’ abilities to solve strenuous math problems, or pick out complex themes from old texts in a short amount of time. Things that put students under immense pressure. 

From 2002 to 2015, the No Child Left Behind Act {NCLB} implemented this practice in schools. Its goal, according to Andrew M.I. Lee, “was to provide more education opportunities for students. It focused on four key groups: students in poverty, students of color, students receiving special education services, and those who speak and understand limited or no English… NCLB held schools accountable for how kids learn and achieve. It did this through annual testing, reporting, improvement targets, and penalties for schools. These changes made NCLB controversial, but they also forced schools to focus on disadvantaged kids.” 

The act came to a close in 2015 when a new law called the Every Student Succeeds Act {ESSA} entered the picture, which is still in effect today. But it still encourages schools to test their students on math and reading capabilities. Lee writes, “The Every Student Succeeds Act responds to some of the key criticisms of NCLB. One is that NCLB relied too much on standardized tests. Another is that schools faced harsh penalties when all of their students weren’t on track to reach proficiency on state tests. At the same time, the new law keeps some aspects of No Child Left Behind. For example, states are still required to report on the progress of traditionally underserved kids. This includes kids in special education… States still have to test students in reading and math once a year in grades 3 through 8, as well as once in high school.” So, even though schools are still testing kids, the procedure is not as played up as it used to be.  

Do not get me wrong, though. Standardized testing does assist the academic needs of children in some capacity. For example, test scores help educators identify struggling students, allowing them to properly assess their needs and make accommodations for them if necessary. Test scores are also used to distinguish advanced students from the student body, permitting them to learn at their desired pace. And just like what Lee wrote, standardized testing provides support for disadvantaged youth and kids with special needs. So the practice does have some perks. Especially now that the NCLB has been replaced with the ESSA. 

Still, there are some educators and parents who put too much pressure on their students to succeed on standardized tests. And not because their health will benefit from it, either. Adults have turned the process of standardized testing into a competition between schools. I took part in this “competition” when I was in secondary school, myself. Teachers would dedicate an entire day to go over the material on the tests – material that did not pertain to the curriculum whatsoever. My friends’ parents would force their children to solve nonsensical math problems in hopes that they would achieve a high score, hopefully, recognition from the school. My middle school even had a banner displayed outside the building that boasted about the student body’s overall test score. 

In other words, many educators and parents have warped the definition of standardized testing for kids. They view the practice as a means of showing off their childrens’ intellectual capabilities. Not necessarily to better understand their needs in school. Personally, this is one of many reasons why children have so much anxiety. Too much anxiety and pressure can lead to a disruption in artistic creativity. Especially for those who find comfort in artistic pursuits such as drawing, painting, and performing. Too much public focus on standardized testing and non-creative subjects can blind people from other areas in academia such as the arts. 

Therefore, how should school boards go about this issue? Teachers should understand that most children learn differently. That means there are some students who are stronger than others in certain areas of study. For them to prove their understanding, they must be accommodating to those struggling. Even if that means giving them extra time on tests, showing them new methods of solving problems/answering questions, and providing additional help if need be. Educators must also show support and interest in their students’ passions. That way, children can feel seen for who they truly are rather than their test scores. This goes for parental figures, too. 

Teachers should also always prioritize their actual coursework first rather than the standardized tests. That way, the learning environment will feel like a space of progression rather than a massive study session with no mercy. According to Lee, the ESSA basically states that “under the new law, states may now consider more than just student test scores when evaluating schools. In fact, they must come up with at least one other measure. Other measures might include things like school safety and access to advanced coursework. But student performance is still the most important measure under the law.” Teachers must look at student performance in the classroom first. They cannot merely go by test scores, for many students struggle with tests in general.  

Schools should additionally stop putting so much stress on standardized testing. Yes, it is a helpful thing to have to check the progress of students., and they should try their best on those tests. However, standardized testing, like I said before, should not be a competition as to who is more advanced or whatnot. So, if schools treat it less like a sport, the more students will be able to breathe. It will also allow them to explore their fields of interests more freely.  


Lee, Andrew. {date unknown}. “What is No Child Left Behind (NCLB)?”  Understood.

Lee, Andrew. {December 10, 2015}. “No Child Left Behind Comes to an End With the Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.” Understood

Klein, Alyson. {March 31, 2016}. “The Every Student Succeeds Act: An ESSA Overview.” Education Week.

About Shazammm

I like cake.
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