I grew up in either the same generation or the generation prior to you and Leftist. Yes, there were standardized tests back then. However, nowhere near the frequency and intensity of the current standardized test regime in the USA. I can remember a standardized test at the end of elementary school, end of middle (junior high) school, and another couple during high school, plus the PSAT and SAT or ACT, but we took those last ones only if we planned to attend university. They were not mandatory tests for all students. Even in the 1980s and 1990s when my children were in school, there were no more tests than when I was a child.
Currently, children in the USA have to take standardized tests mandated initially under Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and replaced by Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act. Even though these tests are officially administered only in a few years during a student’s time in school, the tests have been used so strongly by politicians as a funding sword over the head of school administrators that the schools frequently have multiple “practice exams” for the students with those practice exams carrying just as much pressure as the official exam. In addition, many states have their own separate educational progress measurement tests that are used as the basis for allocating state funding to schools. Some states have multiple exams. Some states give the exams almost every year. Thanks to pressure from corporate interests and parents, politicians have become addicted to the idea that testing for educational achievement is an effective substitute for actual teaching and learning in order for the kids to develop educational achievement themselves. Beating students and school administrators over the heads with more tests is being done instead of actually developing methods that encourage learning.
So, please, spare me the comparison of your sense of testing pressure to what children are facing now. You don’t have a clue what testing pressure is like in schools currently unless you are a teacher in one of the schools or school districts that has substituted testing for teaching, or are the parent of a student experiencing the pressure, or are a student facing the pressure. From my observations, the article is correct that standardized testing is an issue. However, it is wrong to place the blame on common core. The reality is that the standardized testing pressure would be increasing even if common core had never been developed. The reason is that the corporate special interests and politicians have no creativity or imagination in when it comes to learning methods because all they know is testing to rote memorization of facts. Each time the discussion turns to US students underperforming compared to the students in other countries, instead of stepping back to look at why standardized testing and teaching to the test has failed, the politicians and corporate interests just double down on more testing.
Maybe its is time for US politicians to adopt the Finland model, where educational performance is higher than in the USA, but the emphasis on kids being kids and learning by doing and playing and reading replaces teaching to tests. According to a French Youth Ministry study in 2011, after Finland made the changes in their approach to educating children, suicide rates among Finnish children dropped 40% in the decade prior to the study. Meanwhile, child suicide rates in Asia and the USA were increasing during the same period and that was before common core was implemented.