A Personal Response to Dana Goldstein’s Scratching the Surface of Obama’s Education RhetoricDana Goldstein, Puffin Foundation writing fellow at The Nation Institute, recently released an article concerning President Obama’s stance on education in his State of the Union Address. Goldstein’s article highlights several arguments that I strongly agree with. For starters, I too believe Obama’s treatment of the subject of education in the U.S was both underwhelming and underdeveloped considering the numerous issues that plague our education system today. But as Goldstein emphasizes, Obama does deserve credit for the attention that he has given to education that far exceeds the attention given by our previous president. What struck me most about Goldstein’s article however is her consideration of standardized testing. Is standardized testing a just assessment of a student’s intellectual capacity? Should it be used to judge the quality of an institution? In my opinion, absolutely not. Standardized testing is not a fair way to determine students’ intellectual abilities because not all students take multiple-choice tests well. I am an example of a student that does not take standardized tests well. I admit that I have had a very privileged educational experience. I have attended small, private institutions where my academic struggles have always been directly addressed and at the forefront of my teachers’ attention. As a dedicated student, I have been a successful student in terms of grades. However, though my grades reflect a motivated and hardworking individual, my standardized test scores are lower than the national average. In fact, I chose only to apply to colleges that did not require SAT scores out of principle, but also out of necessity. I knew colleges would surely take one look at my test scores and disregard me for consideration. If my standardized test scores have not been able to reflect my academic ability after years of personalized attention, how can a student in a large institution where support has not always been readily available or even accessible be expected to display his or her intellectual capacity though a standardized test? Studies have long shown that students learn in different ways, and excel through different methods of teaching. If that is the case, why should testing be any different? As Goldstein insists, “more sophisticated assessments” should be developed. That way, students can better exhibit their understanding as well as better represent their institutions.
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