In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Obama: Too much testing makes education boring

Prtesident Barack Obama (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.

“Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools,” the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.

Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation’s education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that “everybody agrees makes sense” and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.

At the same time, Obama said, schools should be judged on criteria other than student test performance, including attendance rate.

“One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”

“And young people do well in stuff that they’re interested in,” Obama said. “They’re not going to do as well if it’s boring.”

The president endorsed the occasional administering of standardized tests to determine a “baseline” of student ability. He said his daughters Sasha, 9, and Malia, 12, recently took a standardized test that didn’t require advance preparation. Instead, he said, it was just used as a tool to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses. The girls attend the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington.

Obama, who has been pushing his education agenda all month, has expressed concern that too many schools will be unable to meet annual proficiency standards under the No Child Left Behind law this year. The standards are aimed at getting 100 percent of students proficient in math, reading and science by 2014, a goal now widely seen as unrealistic.

The Obama administration has proposed replacing those standards with a less prescriptive requirement that by 2020 all students graduating from high school should be ready for college or a career.

Obama wants Congress to send him a rewrite of the 2001 law before the start of a new school year this fall. Although his education secretary, Arne Duncan, has been working hard with lawmakers of both parties, the deadline may be unrealistic with Congress focused on the budget and the economy. Congressional Republicans also look unwilling to sign off on Obama’s plans to increase spending on education.

Latino students make up one in five of all students in prekindergarten through high school in the U.S. but lag far behind whites in educational attainment, with less than one in three graduating from high school, according to federal Education Department figures. Obama emphasized to his largely Hispanic audience the importance of staying in school and he noted that more and more jobs will require advanced degrees.

Obama also made a plug Monday for the use of technology in classrooms, revealing that he himself has an iPad.

He turned back a plea from one questioner to grant a special protected status to students who are in the country illegally in order to prevent them from getting deported. Obama said it wouldn’t be appropriate because that status has traditionally been reserved for immigrants fleeing persecution or disaster.

The president did pledge to keep working to pass the Dream Act, which would give illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a chance to gain legal status if they enroll in college or the military. The legislation passed the House but failed in the Senate in December; it now faces even longer odds in Congress with the House controlled by Republicans.


Associated Press writers Stacy Anderson in Washington and Dorie Turner in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

8 thoughts on “Obama: Too much testing makes education boring”

  1. When are we going to ban politicians from education? They aren’t teachers. It was politicians that shoved those standardized tests down our throats. Now another politician is coming up with another plan. Just turn it over to the local level and leave them alone! “No Child Left Behind” has “improved” us from No. 1 in the world all the way down to “37.”

  2. In Massachusetts MCAS testing provides a detailed show of how various sub groups perform and certainly gives a performance of each school and district. The testing has been refined over the years and Massachusetts now ranks #1 in student performance. MCAS results have become a significant issue in elections as school/district performance become a hot topic for discussion.

    Passing the MCAS with a significant grade can entitle a student to reduced or free tuition at a state college. Passing the test also means a difference in a diploma or having a certificate of attendance. Through the years students have come to take this test as a serious matter so there has been an attitude evolution. No more blowing away the test.

    You can also teach to the test as the test is a reflection of the state frameworks and those very frameworks are the basis for course curriculum at all levels. I have my objections to the fact that the test has forced a certain level of regimentation that can be good or bad based on your own personal philosophy. The test has also forced a reduction in certain other areas such as art, music and technology as the prime focus becomes passing MCAS ELA, math and science. The history portion of the test has never been implemented.

  3. Please keep comments at least somewhat relevant to the topic at hand, there are other forums more suited for bile-spewing. The President isn’t going to see your opinion here.

    While the President is proving to be a person far removed from the Campaigner, I have to agree with him on this. A lot of kids know that most of the tests will have no real impact on them and don’t care how they score anyway. Yes, some testing will still be needed, just not so much.

    • One man’s relevance is another’s bile?

      Here’s a so-called professor-turned-pres who wants to dilute the measurement of student achievement so that, when he gets all the pardoned illegals fully integrated, their lack of achievement won’t reflect so poorly on all those union teachers he’s counting on to put him back in office.

      Seems you’re on board with that.

    • The real test students inevitably are faced with is discerning between silver tongued leadership and Representatives of our system who do not compromise principle for personal and political gain.
      That said, all the flowery talk and IMO false concern for our youth is designed to hide the affluent sectors bent to keep the masses undereducated and easily duped at the voting booth.
      Behind all this latest immigrant fairness bull is the Presidents need to lock up the Hispanic vote. Period..

      He has shown by the way he conducts and instructs his Justice department a willingness to ignore the core rot emanating from the totality of our government.

      Should any student want to emulate this form of leadership, or stand and take pride in such a bleak future as this President and his predecessors have mapped for them ?
      How can one label the already defeated through no fault of their own, quitter ? Here kitty, kitty..

  4. Wait till you get your final grade Mr President before pissing on the over taxed underfunded mess that you promised to prosecute the perpetrators of, but covertly let slip..We need an immigration wave of sanity.
    Right now you look and sound more like an old fat shark in a skinny suit than a multi cultural Guru, Sir.
    You talk too much methinks, of berry patches yon, whilst parched the source of your wind dries on the rhetoric vine back home.
    The lamest justice dept. in history thrives as toxic bacteria neath your nails Sir. 10 trillion is still out there somewhere. Hack.
    Most would have found the sink, with soap of law by now. Mr. President.
    Especially so, a Doctorate, Nobel.
    What highly apparent in your face action could top your charade ?
    Flux in flux out Sir, become you once you surface slag…

Comments are closed.