The value of learning

With the changes to the public school system, the value of learning is diminishing. Students care more about the appearance of rigor and grades instead of what will benefit them in the in the long run.

Of course, the educational grading system holds purpose. Grading a student’s performance allows the teacher, student and his parents to recognize what a student knows and where he needs to spend more time studying, but the value of what one is being taught is lost the more one focuses on grades.

The constant emphasis on grades leads to more students cheating on tests simply to get that “A.” According to the Educational Testing Center cheating peaks in high school with 75 percent of high schoolers surveyed admitting to cheating, whether it be on homework or tests.

The school system focuses more on getting good grades and passing standardized tests than actually learning the material.

To ensure these great grades, students often stay up late cramming for a test simply to pass, but according to a University of South Florida psychologist’s study, students who cram material are more likely to forget the information in the long run. Simply cramming all of the material the night before does not insure long term learning, it just increases one’s chance of passing a test, which will not help in the years to come.

The focus towards an intense grading system not only affects students, but teachers as well. In 2012 teachers learned that they would be graded on student’s test scores and on classroom observations. Part of teacher’s pay will be based on how their students perform on standardized tests.

This push for higher test scores changes the way teachers teach. Since test score are so important, interesting information becomes useless and is often not taught. Instead of being taught things that students enjoy they are simply taught what is necessary to pass tests. Students like the fun facts and interesting material instead of rigor all day and simply teaching the benchmarks does not inspire students to learn or help them enjoy the learning process.

While higher test score increase one’s chance of getting into college, too often students are pushed into advanced placement courses because they “look good.” Instead, students should take courses that fit their interest and that challenges them academically. Yes, AP courses look good, but students who love music do not need AP Chemistry, instead that student should take a chorus or drama class to help perfect their skills.

In addition to just rigorous AP classes, schools need to offer classes that will help benefit students in the future. Classes that teach how to balance a checkbook or how to fix common household items are more important than classes that simply help one get into college because classes like this teach real world skills.

Additionally, standardized tests intended to test everyone on the same level, but by doing this, the government actually lowered the value students put on learning. Students no longer value the material, they simply value the grade. Learning is supposed to be an educational and interesting process, not something students stress about constantly.

Although there is a need for standardized tests to determine grade level skills, Florida’s testing craze has diminished teachers and students love of actually learning. There is more to life than passing all of one’s end of year tests, getting an A in class or taking all of the AP courses a school has to offer. What really matters is the actual quest for knowledge and the love of learning.

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