Standardized testing throughout the U.S.

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Testing can often add unnecessary stress to student’s lives.

Maya Messick

Standardized testing for students in the U.S. is nothing new, as it’s been around for over 100 years. In 2020, everything from finals to the SAT test often determine a person’s future in their education or career. However, the measure of one’s intelligence should not be determined solely on how well they are able to focus and retain information under pressure. Required standardized tests are unreliable, as they only measure a small part of what makes school count.

Large tests determine how well a person did on a specific day at that point in time. If that person receives bad news, is having a bad day, or simply gets too anxious, it can easily make their score plummet. So many factors that will never be fully accounted for go into these tests. A more elongated, overall academic score, such as a GPA (grade point average) would be much more accurate. 

Bob Shaeffer from FairTest.org argues, “The nature of these standardized exams- fast paced, multiple choice “games” that put a premium on strategic guessing- means that they advantage students with strong test-taking skills, not necessarily those with other talents that may be more valuable in the classroom or in life.” Standardized testing is unfair to people without access to studying, tutoring, and other resources that may be necessary for those who do not retain information easily. It also creates a stressful environment for those with anxiety disorders or students who do not perform well in single, weighted situations. 

Education researcher Gerald W. Bracey, PhD, stated that standardized testing does not include the measure of, “creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, civic-mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty, integrity.” Standardized testing cannot possibly portray these qualities, as multiple choice and fill in the blank questions go no further than academic measurements. 

Required standardized tests, based on one point in a much larger collection of data, should not affect your college application. Colleges across the U.S. have changed recently required tests, and have made them optional. This could potentially accelerate the academic community to find other measures of success that don’t discriminate and allow a wider variety of intelligence to attend and succeed in college.