Do Schools Place too Much Emphasis on Testing?

Albert Einstein once claimed that a man’s intelligence is not distinguished by his knowledge but instead by his imagination.The words of the man admired as one of the world’s greatest intellectuals of the past century certainly ring true today, but Einstein’s preachings have not been heard by the United States Public School systems. Whereas Einstein believed, It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”, today’s public schools have chosen to place an egregious emphasis on ability to test: a metric which, as it turns out, reaps very little benefit in the long run.


Whether you reside in the group of “good test takers” or “bad test takers” all high schoolers are divided into has become a key determinant in many students’ ability to pursue further education in college. But at a certain point we have to ask ourselves, is testing truly the most accurate measurement of an individual’s ability to succeed professionally? Is it fair to tell someone they are inherently worth less, simply because of an outdated metric they have no control over? In a real workplace, an employer isn’t going to be impressed by a worker’s ability to solve equations without a formula sheet, regurgitate the dates of the most important civil war battles, or give the exact molar mass of Radon, to the hundredths place. Success in the real world is dependent on one’s ability to work together with others, as well as their dedication to working hard and providing results for their company. So why is it that the primary method of teaching in Fairfax County is testing?


What if, instead of using tests as the basis for all grades, schools used projects? Projects force students to practice every skill of an excellent worker: cooperation, communication, diligence, and planning. A student who is able to meticulously carry out a project by working carefully and efficiently with others represents a student who is more prepared for the real world than one who can score a perfect score on a test. The features of a testing environment are restrictions which one would never be faced with in the real world. The easy access to information provided by technology has rendered knowledge much less important than it once was, and the rarest and most sought after workers are now those with a strong work ethic, who are willing to work productively for the entire day, and even after hours at times.


The stress public schools impose on students with test-taking is exorbitant and unnecessary when considering how relatively unimportant test-taking skills are later in life. If public schools truly hope to prepare students for their careers, the best option is to shift education towards a focus on project-based learning. Under project based learning, not only will students be alleviated from the tremendous amount of stress created by testing, but they will also be allowed to practice skills applicable in the real world, thereby not only bettering themselves in school, but also in every aspect of their lives.