Obama Says What We Already Knew: Kids Are Taking Too Many Damn Tests

by Ashley Austrew
Originally Published: 

For years, parents have been complaining about the number of standardized tests kids are taking in school. Now, it turns out, President Obama finally agrees with us.

In a video message posted to the White House Facebook page, Obama called for caps on the number of standardized tests kids take each year, and announced that he’ll be working “aggressively” with the Department of Education to restore creativity to the classroom.

Under the Obama administration’s guidance, the Department of Education will work to ensure students are taking tests that are high quality, promote good teaching, and aren’t redundant in the material they’re assessing. Obama also said testing will be just one tool of several used to measure academic achievement because “learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble.”

According to the Washington Post, the average kid takes about 112 standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade, which is absolutely ridiculous. That means kids spend between 20 and 25 hours every school year taking tests, and those numbers don’t even include the amount of time they spend preparing for those tests. Overall, it’s simply too much, and it’s stressing everyone out.

CNN reports 53 percent of parents say their elementary-aged kids are over-stressed by homework and testing. Similarly, a separate study by Yale showed the vast majority of 22,000 high school students surveyed reported feeling either tired or stressed whenever they’re at school. Kids have no room for fun or freedom anymore, and it’s sad to watch.

The explosion in testing largely began with Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy and grew with the adoption of Common Core standards. Obama’s new initiative doesn’t eliminate Common Core, but it does seek to put limits on how schools are being measured — as in, they can’t take 800 different tests that all assess the same things — and would support a cap on testing at the federal level, should Congress ever get its act together.

The bottom line is, the kids are not alright. They’re exhausted and overworked, and the fun and creativity have been sucked from their lives. Parents have been talking about this for years and trying to fight it at the local level. It’s about time Obama gets involved and starts encouraging administrators to hear us and to hear the concerns of teachers who work for them.

Constant testing sucks the joy out of learning. It keeps teachers from teaching the way they want to, and it eliminates any sense of spontaneity or fun from the classroom. It makes kids associate education with stress, exhaustion, and being overworked. If we want our kids to be successful, we have to help them fall in love with learning, and that means no more spending 25 hours per school year filling in pointless bubbles.

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