The Lancer

Faceoff; Are standardized tests effective?

Posted on Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Standardized tests are effective

Anthony Bowen ’18
Staff Writer

Are standardized tests a detriment to students unfairly viewing all of them as the same by measuring a limited spectrum of abilities? Or, are they a helpful guide pushing students towards their untapped potential, while simultaneously tracking how they compare with their peers?

While I know a majority of people will disagree with me, I have to side with the latter. Although the system set up at the present time is not flawless, it does have many positive attributes that are simply dismissed based on a constant basis.

Many people opposed to standardized tests cite the example that the are a stacked deck against the student, and are the bearer of much stress and anxiety. I disagree with this, and think the tests can actually push students to strive for success.

When interviewed by testing scholar and economist Richard P. Phelps, a staggering 93% of students admitted to finding a positive effect in the tests, acknowledging that they pushed themselves further than they ever would have, if not for the pressures associated with testing.

Also, I think that too many students view tests as the “end all be all” of their future. However, a test score is not the final nail in the coffin for getting rejected from the college of your dreams, or getting the scholarship you desperately desire. There are other determining factors for a student’s future, so I think that students put too much weight into their test score, which causes them to view tests in a negative light. Standardized tests are not meant to be bad, but instead are designed as a helpful indicator of a student’s academic prowess.

Furthermore, a study by the University of Arkansas found that a great deal of students actually took on a more positive outlook towards the examinations and actually did not feel as much negative pressure put on them as people like to argue. So, while there is a certain number of students who feel the pressure to push themselves further, a good amount aren’t stressed out to the point of sweating and having anxiety attacks, as is commonly seen in exaggerated movie portrayals of how people react to exams.

In addition, plenty of students find testing fair, according to a Public Agenda survey. Of 1342 recorded interviews with students grades 6-12, about 79 percent found standardized test questions to be fair.

This shows that students know what is expected of them in these examinations, which means they can brush up on what they do not know and perform well on the tests. If kids know what is on the test, then how can the test be unfairly gauging their knowledge? Students all have different strengths and weaknesses, but if students can prepare for a test by studying and developing their weaker areas, the test is hardly unfair.

The test is designed to assess the learners ability in a multitude of categories, and while one could argue that this limits showing other skills important to showcasing a well rounded individual, this is not exactly the case. Standardized tests are a reliable check of a student’s abilities of what they have learned in school, which is really the foundation for any higher education.

Again, I am in no way saying that standardized tests are infallible and a perfect way to assess every student who takes them. The systems in place do need work, and I have my eyes clearly open to this.

However, I have taken more tests than I can even count in their varying forms throughout my high school years and earlier, and, when it comes down to it, I can see the benefits of standardized testing. What I do not appreciate is when people completely dismiss the positives, and only focus on the few downsides of standardized testing, which you will find in anything when you look hard enough.

Instead of just a complete disregard of the positive qualities, we should have an honest conversation about how we can make standardized testing better for students. For right now, though, what we have is not as bad as people make it out to be.


Standardized tests are not effective

Layla McMurtrie ’19
Staff Writer

One test could define your future.

Standardized tests can be a huge determination of a student’s future. This can put a lot of pressure on students because a test, such as the SAT, can determine which college you go to, which can change the course of your entire life. I don’t think test scores should be a big part of getting accepted to colleges, because a brilliant student may not be a good test taker.

Not only will these tests affect your future, but they also make learning in school a lot more difficult. As specified by The Washington Post, there is less time for learning because of all of the testing and test preparation. Since good test scores are important to schools, and to teachers as well, more time is being spent “teaching to the test” instead of teaching students what they really need to know. This could end up giving students fewer opportunities in the future, because they will have a bunch of unnecessary things memorized, instead of useful knowledge that they will need for jobs or in life.

Additionally, the people who make these tests see testing as just another business opportunity. If the test is not given to you at your school, you are usually required to pay a lot of money to take it. You also have to pay money if you want to retake a test, or take a different one that is not provided.

The tests also do not take into account other extenuating circumstances, such as socioeconomic levels of students. For example, if a student has more money, they are more likely to have the ability to get additional help and tutoring that is unavailable to students at a lower socioeconomic class. This would cause their score to be higher, and would give them more opportunities than a student from a lower income family, even if both students had the same amount of potential.

Not only is it hard for some students to build their test taking skills before the exam, but after taking them, there is still no feedback provided on how to improve. Standardized tests can cause students to feel bad about being on a lower level than others, but do not give them immediate information about what areas they need help on. The results are given months later, and there is no effort from the corporation to help the lower level students get to a higher level.

Another problem with standardized tests is that they treat people like they are all identical, when that is far from the truth. Everyone has different learning and thinking styles, but all students are still required to take the same test, which does not show all of their different abilities.

As stated by The Denver Post, standardized tests do not promote creativity or open-mindedness. The multiple choice format of these tests encourages a simple way of thinking. Students today are not told that they are allowed to expand their thinking to be creative or express themselves, and these tests make it seem like the only important things in life are what is on the tests themselves.

After all of this, it has been shown that standardized tests don’t even help students to become better learners. According to US News, studying for this type of testing does not always, “improve [students] cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention and speed, even if their test scores do improve.” This shows that standardized tests are an unreliable marker of a student’s abilities and performance.

Although standardized tests have been around for decades, there has still been no implementation of a method of improvement in education derived from the information gathered by taking these exams. If these tests were going to improve learning, they may be useful, but instead they are making learning harder than ever before.

Standardized tests scores should not be what a student is labeled by. Students should be able to be creative without feeling like it is not what they are supposed to be doing. Someone’s background or their economic level have no place in determining their intelligence. A person’s future should not be decided by tests that do not shine light on their true range of abilities.

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