Standardized Tests for Not-So-Standard Students

Standardized tests are abundant in high school, but are they measuring a students full capabilities?

Dominic Juranty, Journalism

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  Administering the same test to everybody expresses expectations to politicians, not comprehension of students. Standardized testing is commonplace in nearly every school in America, but is it detrimental? Whether it be the ACT, CRT, or just EOC exams, they all produce stress. Students have faced stress since the dawn of education, but in 1926, the SAT was introduced, multiplying that stress.

Ryan Cook, Junior, filling out a Scantron.

  Stress levels are constant in many students. Students and professionals understand the severity of this stress, and education researcher Gregory J. Cizek emphasizes his concern. “Testing produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both” demonstrating how psychologically harmful a slip of paper that determines one’s future can be. The overwhelming stress reduces the concentration of these kids, rendering their tests pointless if they cannot function properly.

  The tests are intended to procure an understanding of what students have learned, but they fail to do so with a narrow curriculum: instead of testing a range of knowledge, they test for standards. As Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it is stupid” which expresses the absurdity of standards. A student with dyslexia should not be ridiculed for being incapable of performing at the same levels as a student without.

  Students typically cram an excessive amount of information before the test date, but once the test has concluded, the information is never to be used again in class, let alone in adulthood. The “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2002 required students in grades 3-8 to be tested on reading and mathematics, and once in high school. State standards are required to be met or exceeded by the students; if not, they fail.

  Many countries are superior to the United States in education; for instance, South Korea, China, and Finland, all exceed the U.S. in academic performance due to their rigorous education systems that, on average, includes a 10-hour school day. They may be more “intelligent” when it comes to testing, but as Yong Zhao, a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, argues, “focus on test taking can rob students of creativity.” The medieval process of singular focus on one subject, testing, influences a bland world of mediocre inventions and depressed students. It is oppressing them from their true creativity and shuns their personality.

  Another concern is price. According to Matthew M. Chingos, an author and director of the Urban Institute’s Education Policy Program, last year, America collectively spent “$1.7 billion” on Common Core standardized testing. These expenses are hefty, especially while the “support for the Core dropped from 65 percent last year to 53 percent in 2014,” according to Valerie Strauss from The Washington Post. Students, parents, and even some teachers find these tests and means of education ridiculous, especially when they are so costly. If standardized testing was disbanded, this sum of money could go to other more important matters, like new textbooks or desks or superior cameras for journalism class.

  It is not essential to understand Chinese philosophy from the 1300s, but it is essential to be able to properly change a tire, change the oil in their car, balance a checkbook, or know when/where to take out a loan, but sadly, these abilities are not deemed a priority within these “standards.”

  Students are being prepared to be quizzed when walking through the streets on who Sun Tzu is, how to find the angle of a triangle, or what a chiasmus is; however, the only time these are practical is in college. Our world is being prepped for a life of testing useless knowledge, but we should be prepped for life with functional attributes.

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