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PCP: Standardized testing

According to The New York Times, many colleges gave applicants the option of not submitting test scores due to the ongoing pandemic

May 16, 2021

Standardized testing needs to go

High stakes exams are a bad measure of learning

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Standardized exams have faced a lot of criticism recently. Specifically for high school students, these tests are a cause for concern. They are stressful, time-consuming and do a bad job of assessing students’ knowledge. 

Standardized testing has gotten out of hand, as students now spend hours of rigorous training all for a good score. School should be about learning the material for your class, not about learning how to do well on the test itself. Tests are meant to be a measure of a student’s progress, but when they become the main focus for students, it’s gone too far. 

Personally, I’ve found this to be true in an AP class I am taking this year. A good portion of the class is simply learning about the ins and outs of the AP exam ahead. While I understand studying is important, too much of this class has become about learning how to take a test instead of spending that time learning about the material. 

Additionally, standardized tests are a very shallow way to judge a student’s knowledge. After all, how can only one or two tests determine the exact academic level at which a person is at? What if someone is having a bad day and doesn’t do well? Many students don’t perform well on tests, no matter how much of the material they’ve learned. These tests do not take into account academic growth throughout the year, nor do they consider any measure of creativity. 

There is far too much emphasis placed on standardized testing — kids look at their scores as a measure of their self-worth. This high stakes environment is an overwhelming place to be and it creates a very unhealthy, competitive atmosphere amongst students. 

Overall, standardized tests are stressful and not worth the time and energy students put into them.

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Standardized testing beneficial

Helps students find weaknesses

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Throughout my high school years, one of the most daunting aspects has been standardized testing. Whether it be the ACT, SAT or MCA, standardized testing is present throughout many students’ time in school. In recent years, standardized testing has been labeled as a tool of the past and is not needed in students’ academic regimen. I believe that standardized testing helps us pinpoint student’s weaknesses and assess them on a scale that is quantifiable. For this reason, we still need standardized testing. 

One of the largest arguments against standardized testing is how it places students on a scale and compares them to each other. I agree that comparing kids at such a young age can be harmful to their confidence but the alternative to a quantifiable test is merely opinion. If you were to take the bubble sheets out of testing and replace them with an interview style test, it will open up to infinite problems with bias. One interviewer might think that a kid meets standards while another thinks they do not, thus creating the potential for more error. Because of this, I continue to believe the current style of testing is superior to other options.

Another large criticism of standardized testing is how much pressure it puts on students to get high grades. This criticism is very selective, as we already put a lot of pressure on students in other aspects of their academics whether it be sports, extracurriculars or grade point averages. The amount of pressure that students feel to perform to look good for colleges can’t be solely pinned on standardized testing and should be evaluated on all levels if it were to change.

Standardized testing has been a useful resource in our education system for a long time, and to dismantle or even remove it from academics would make it harder for our education system to function. The solution of removing it from academics will bring upon a student body that is more lazy, less driven and used to getting their academic shortfalls excused by unequal teacher review. 

 

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