In response to the May 15 "Local View" column, "Ranking aside, Duluth's Marshall School a national leader," I agree with having minimal standardized testing. Minnesota requires 165 instructional days, but not all are for learning. Standardized testing diminishes actual learning and instructional time. Testing also can hurt a student's confidence, provide a false picture of a student's abilities, and put unneeded stress on teachers and students to get good scores for their district.
To better our schooling, we should follow the ideologies of Finland. As I understand it, Finland has one high-stakes standardized test at the end of the 12-year education. Also in Finland, teachers are valued, respected, and paid more. There's very little homework, and children are given more time to be creative and play outside. Teachers in Finland are more concerned with teaching for understanding and making sure students know topics. In the U.S. teachers are forced to cover a certain amount of information in a certain amount of time, and it doesn't always matter if the student retains the information long-term. All the student worries about is getting a good grade on the test instead of making sure they know all the information on the subject.
Adults may see valid reasons for standardized testing, but do these reasons help the student grow as a person or in life? Who are they really helping? My point can be highlighted by Albert Einstein's statement that, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
The question is, what are you best at? Is it ethical to test a student on someone else's measurement of genius and then call them stupid? One question I keep asking myself is: Why hasn't the U.S. adopted more of Finland's educational values?
Ethan Alan Gunderson