GOOD

What Do Students Think About Standardized Testing? A College Freshman Plans to Find Out

"Listen" will document the emotional toll testing takes on students.


There's plenty of debate among adults about standardized testing, but what do students think about it? 18-year-old University of Missouri-Columbia freshman Ankur Singh has decided to take the spring semester off from school in order to find out. He plans to make a documentary film, tentatively titled Listen based on what students tell him.

Singh, who is a journalism major, writes on his blog that making the documentary isn't a "school project or an assignment I was given by some production company." He's been thinking about the impact of our testing culture on students since his junior year when he was "enrolled in an English class taught by the best teacher I ever had."


The teacher, says Singh, "realized that most of his students were not going to be writing essays about Alexander Pope poems in their professional careers, so instead of focusing on memorizing the content of the literature, he focused on developing our critical thinking skills." As a result, Singh and his classmates were pushed to analyze literature and were allowed "to form our own ideas and argue them well." The class "was the only class I’ve ever taken where the lessons I learned will carry with me for the rest of my life, and after completion I felt 10 times smarter," says Singh.

In contrast, during his senior year of high school, Singh enrolled in AP English and hoped he'd further hone the writing and critical thinking skills he'd developed the year before. But, he quickly found out that the entire purpose of AP English "was to prepare for the AP Exam in May and to get ready for college." What did that look like? "Instead of analyzing themes or characters," says Singh, "our teacher would give us questions which we would have to write essays about in a 50 minute class period similar to what we would find on the AP Exam and in college classes." He grew frustrated with the test prep and longed for "genuine learning."

The same thing happened in Singh's AP French class, and when his teacher administered a pilot of the new AP French Exam, Singh's frustration boiled over. "I didn’t do it," he says. "Instead I wrote a very angry letter to the College Board in the margin of the answer sheet expressing my frustration with the way they have interfered with my education."

He ended up being called to the school counselor's office and had a conversation with the counselor and his French teacher where he detailed his concerns and how he felt "like school is holding me back from reaching my true potential." That's when Singh found out that his teacher was frustrated as well and would rather have the students "watch French films or travel to a French bakery than to sit and do test prep.

"And then my French teacher said something that I won't forget for a long time," says Singh. "'Maybe if the students themselves spoke out against it, it could all change.'"

Singh plans to travel across the country from January-May 2012 filming students from diverse backgrounds and schools so they can tell their stories. He hopes to avoid the politics of the standardized testing debate and simply "capture the emotional toll" on the No Child Left Behind generation.

Singh already has all the equipment he needs but he has a Kickstarter to help fund his travel expenses—he only has until December 14 to reach his funding goal of $2,000. (As of this writing, he's a little more than halfway there.) He's also looking for students to interview so if you know a student who feels particularly passionate about the issue, email him at listenthefilm@gmail.com.

"I don't think enough people realize that behind every one of those test scores is a living, breathing child who has dreams and aspirations that may or may not align with what’s being measured on standardized tests," says Singh. "I also want to show people the talent us young people have that’s being suppressed by showcasing incredible things youth can do when we're at our best."

Click here to add funding Singh's Kickstarter to your GOOD "to-do" list.

Teacher supervising students taking standardized test image via Shutterstock

Articles
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture

In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News