John Oliver & Standardized Tests

John Oliver’s new(ish) show, Last Week Tonight, airs weekly on Sundays on HBO. A number of weeks ago, he did a special episode on standardized testing in the United States and the issues that they raise. The show paid special attention to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), which is the standardized test that my research focuses on.

This particular episode discusses the difficulties many children face when taking standardized tests, the time it takes away from actual learning in the classroom, and the multi-billion dollar testing industries that profit off children’s time and stress.

Not only are these tests stressful for students to take, but teacher salaries are linked with student performance. This is why they call these kinds of tests “high-stakes.” There are serious consequences associated with how children perform on these tests including how much funding the school receives, student grade promotion decisions, and teacher evaluations.

What’s worse is that these tests are negatively impacting schools, students, and teachers in some of the lowest income districts in the country. My research shows the disparities that these tests can create along socioeconomic and ethnic lines.