Taking Standardized Tests

Vianie Merino, Writter

As defined by Merriam-Webster, a standardized test is “a test whose reliability has been established by obtaining an average score of a significantly large number of individuals for use as a standard of comparison.” However, many would argue a mere measure of comparison limits students in their personal growth.

Aside from testing, the already intense school curriculum exposes students to a competitive amount of stress. To harshly compare a student’s personal test results to others, therefore, unnecessarily produces more pressure.

The stress described in the article “Standardized Testing,” by ProCon, has been described as “severe” and “crippling.” The Sacramento Bee has even reported that “test-related jitters, especially among young students, are so common that the Stanford-9 exam comes with instructions on what to do with a test booklet in case a student vomits on it.”

Clearly, students are believing these tests are defining of their success and, thus, are at a terrifying risk of self-deprecation.

It is also unfair to measure a student’s abilities on a single test. A study by the Brookings Institution determined that “50-80% of year-over-year test score improvements were temporary and caused by fluctuations that had nothing to do with long-term changes in learning.”

Grading these skills on one day and of limited material, does not fully determine a student’s capabilities. Other factors of their growth, therefore, should be considered when applying for colleges, for instance.

Overall, standardized tests are unfair in the pressure they put on already stressed students. A more accurate depiction of their progress would include analyzing the student’s work throughout all years of education.

However, it would be unreasonable to dismiss the benefits of such testing. The peer-reviewed article, “Education Policy Analysis Archives,” states that many  teachers have found standardized testing to have a positive impact, improving the quality of the curriculum while raising student achievement.

Clearly standardized testing does have benefits of challenging and encouraging students to reflect their full potential in these tests. However, the immense pressure added to students should be greatly considered when grading and determining the full weight of their scores.