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The Pros and Cons of Standardized Tests

Taylor Machetti

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Standardized tests have been a part of American education since the mid 1800’s. Standardized testing is a highly controversial and well debated topic. Many people believe that standardized tests provide an accurate measurement of student performance; while others think standardized tests don’t accurately measure a student’s true ability in school.

Many kids simply do not perform well on tests. Some of the students that do poorly on these tests are smart and understand content, but it simply doesn’t show on tests. Many students also develop test anxiety which hinders performance.

Also, standardized testing doesn’t take into account external factors. Testing in general causes many teachers to only teach to the test. This practice can hinder a student’s overall potential. Standardized testing like , the SAT’s, only evaluate the individual performance of the student instead of the overall growth of that student. Lastly, standardized testing can create a lot of stress for the students and the teachers. The students especially feel the pressure when there is something important or meaningful tied to them.

But, there are some positives that come out of standardized testing.  These tests hold teachers and students accountable. The greatest benefit id that teachers teach a curriculum that prepares their students for these tests. Standardized testing also allows students located in various schools, districts, and states to be compared.

I interviewed a junior from another school in Maryland and asked his opinion on standardized testing. He said, “Tests are given to everyone determining how smart they are, certain people have different strengths and weaknesses, like for example I am good at math but not as strong in English. So why should I be tested on something that I know I am not going to do later in life?”

I then interviewed my Aunt who was an English teacher and reading specialist. Her point of view was, “Depending on the test, some are necessary and important to get into a good college, like the SAT’s. Some, are a complete waste of time and money like the HSA and most are over relied upon. There are some really big companies that make a lot of money off of these standardized tests. They are just taking money away from our schools and our education system.”

Lastly, I interviewed a Harford county math teacher. She said, “I think standardized testing is over rated. When a state puts so much emphasis on school progress in terms of standardized testing, it discounts all the other amazing things that are happening in schools. The sad thing is, that students attend school 180 days out of the year and the only results leaders of our school system are worried about is standardized testing which takes only about 7 of those school days. School systems fail to recognize that some students are just not great test takers and these tests minimize the efforts of strong academic students on a yearly basis. Standardized testing is just one small picture in the academic career of every student yet it weighs so heavily on schools and funding.”

In the classroom, teachers would rather teach to ensure good test scores than teach a curriculum that will carry these student’s way beyond the current school walls. I wish there was a way for standardized tests to be taken so that we can gauge our performance against other states but not have the fall out if a school does not test well. I also think the idea that every year a school should perform better than the year before is absolutely absurd.

Although students not being good test takers represents a huge percentage, there are other factors that affect these tests such as: snow days, funding, lack of technology, and a curriculum not aligned to the test. Bottom line is standardized testing does not always tell the true story about student or school progress.

 

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The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School
The Pros and Cons of Standardized Tests