In a recent article, a group of education officials intend to improve testing for children which may result in standardized testing that will not improve achievement results for Black students. Members of the Council of State School Officers in conjunction with the Council of the of the Great City Schools will make every effort to improve testing to alleviate pressures from parents and teachers. The Council of Great Schools found that students take an average of 113 standardized test between preschool and 12th grade. The quantity of test and the quality of the test prove ineffective for most Black students.
According to the Department of Education, Black students have been outperformed by White students since 1972. While the department of education has implemented such strategies as No Child Left Behind, they fact remains that standardized test are ineffective for Black students. No where in any school district where the majority of the students are Black will you find that Black students outperform White students on standardized testing.
When we think about improving education, we consider the Alpha and Omega. We think about the beginning and ending. The education for Blacks as with other students begins when they enter the door. Upon entering the school, the one person that they spend most of their time with is the teacher. The teacher instructs with the assessment of students as the end.
Black students are most proficient when they have an opportunity to demonstrate their learning physically. This is one of the reasons why Black students excel in athletics and music. In the National Basketball Association 95% of the players are Black. In the National Football League a little more that 67% of the players are Black. Black students also excel when they work together as a team in a cooperative learning structure.
Since Black students continue to lag behind in standardized testing, why not adjust the feasting to include assessment that are “Black student friendly”?
Classroom teachers use several strategies which are Black student friendly. One such strategy is cooperative learning. As indicated earlier, NBA and NFL example, Black students excel when working together as a group. Additionally, Black students excel when they are required to demonstrate their learning through oral demonstrations. Cooperative learning and oral demonstrations have proved beneficial for Black students. So why is it so difficult for organizations that design standardized testing to use strategies that are beneficial to Black students?
US News reported that the top 11 skills needed for a career are:
- Writing clearly and forcefully
- Synthesizing and organizing Data
- Doing Research
- Presenting material orally
- Meeting Deadlines
- Getting along with the Boss
- Multitasking and time management
- Working on a Team
- Taking Notes
- Seeing a Big project through to completion
- Creative Thinking
The present system of standardized testing only addresses 3 out of 11 or 27% (writing clearly and forcefully, meeting deadlines, and creative thinking) of the needed career skills outlined in the US News report. If we include the skills needed for a career that are “Black student friendly”, the state standardized assessment would at least include an additional four skills, (doing research, presenting material orally, working on a team, seeing the project through to completion) the state standardized assessment would become more “Black student friendly” and cover at least seven or 64% of the skills required for a career.
The design of standardized test that are “Black student friendly” would improve each student and each school that has Black students.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
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