The Herald

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Jack Snyder

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As a student, one of my least favorite parts of my education is standardized testing. Very few things are more annoying than coming to school and realizing that I must spend at least an hour on a test that means very little to me. I fully understand that tests like the ACT and SAT are necessary for a college education. However, I don’t understand why our society has placed such a high value on a standardized test scores. 

I understand that most high schools can use standardized tests in order to better understand the learning of the students. With these test results teachers can see which areas of a subject are well understood by the class and which areas are not understood. However, there are issues with using a student’s test score to explain his or her learning. Standardized tests can be accurate, but they are not full proof.  

As a student, I know first-hand that many students do not take these tests seriously. Many just want to get them over with, so they either guess or simply do not put their full effort into the test. Also test like these cannot account for other circumstances that may be affecting a student’s ability to take the test to his or her best ability. For example, a student could have had a sport or another activity the night before and did not get enough sleep before the test. Or perhaps a student is going through an emotional struggle that could affect his or her ability to complete the test.  

Studies have proven that standardized tests are unreliable forms of showing the improvement of students learning. In fact, a study was published in 2001 by Brookings Institution that showed that 50-80% of improvements in test scores were temporary and caused by fluctuations. None of these were showing long term growth. For example, a student’s test may show improvement simply because he or she tried on the second one and mostly guessed on the first. Standardized tests will only be able to accurately show improvement if all the students give their best effort, and this cannot every be guaranteed. 

Standardized tests also are not the best way to show what a student truly knows. For example, when I prepare for a regular test at school I study the material and make sure that I am familiar with it. However, when preparing for a test like the ACT we learn strategies and statistics that only tell us how to get a high score and not to understand the material. Our education system values the score of the test more than knowing the material. Although I know that the reality of standardized test will not change, I still do not feel that they are the best way to measure what a student knows 

 

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