Standardized testing: Is it for everyone?

I live in the state of Maryland. I have a ten year old son who is in the fifth grade. In accordance with No Child Left Behind and Maryland’s state assessment (MSA) each child is tested for content in reading, math and science. From grades three to eight, students are tested on reading, math and language skills. In grades four through eight, Maryland includes science. Standardized testing determines which schools systems get more or less funding and how well they rate among their peers in teaching core fundamentals. While I understand standardized testing, my son’s MSA scores do not accurately reflect his knowledge level. Some kids do well with standardized testing. Their reading comprehension is well. My son is not one of those kids. He retains information better if he’s visually shown than having to read it. Here is where the problem lies. I believe there are more children, than just my son, who would benefit from assessments that are both standard and alternative. As each child learns at a different pace and different skill set, more personalization and utilization of different tools can be used to reduce children from falling through the cracks in our education system. In a timed setting with several other children, my son rushes through tests in order not to be last. In this setting, his test scores are average and if he’s not interested in the subject matter below average. When testing on an individual level, his score increases dramatically as he doesn’t feel pressured to compete.

Maryland does have an alternative MSA, but this is given to students who have several cognitive disabilities that prohibit them from understanding the standard MSA. Again, I don’t believe either clearly shows a true portrait of a child’s social, behavioral or learning patterns. I don’t have any easy answers only more questions on how we can provide individual learning plans for each student, without the headache of lack of funds, no resources, overcrowded classes and not enough teachers.

Taiwan has a different perspective on standardized testing. Emphasis is placed more on academics and student’s test scores determine what high school and college they will attend. The better the test scores, the better the schools. If students don’t score well enough to attend the best schools, their career choices are limited. Where our teachers have flexible on how to administer class curriculums, Taiwan is extremely rigid and leaves little room for students to grow socially and emotionally. The stress levels of Taiwanese students is extremely high to perform well; there is no option to perform average or less.


What does MSA test? Retrieved from

Taiwan and U.S. Education Comparisons: Standardized Testing. Retrieved from

3 thoughts on “Standardized testing: Is it for everyone?

  1. I live in Texas and we have the same issues. I don’t believe a standardized test tells much about a child. The only thing it may tell is if they can take a test well in a certain amount of time.

  2. I hear your frustration with the standardized testing. I feel that it is fortunate for your son that you understand it’s short comings. I am aware of many parents that assume their child’s scores are the end all and they base rewards on how well the child does on this type of testing, a great disservice in my opinion.

    Jennifer Pore`

  3. Hello Lisa I live in Baltimore Maryland also . I am familiar with the MSA also . I think that assessing children’s knowledge is great in order to ensure that the children are comprehending what they are being taught. I have a problem with them placing special needs children in classrooms with children who do not have special needs meanly because children work at different pace and the other reason that I think is a concern to me is that the MSA standardize testing is timed. Children may need more time with working a math problem out. I remember taking test in senior high school and I just legged behind . I remember being to examples away from finishing a part of my test and the timer rung.

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