In recent years we have seen an escalating debate over standardized testing in schools, with pros and cons on both sides. Standardized testing on one hand can be very beneficial in identifying problems in schools or districts. On the other hand, standardized testing has proved to be a poor indicator of an individual’s future success, and can prevent students from accessing important opportunities. This article will highlight the many points on both sides of the debate.
No, Standardized testing should not be abolished. As noted above, these tests have been very helpful to school districts around the country because they help indicate problems within the school and show analytical progress. Such testing can enable students to see what they fully know and gaugue areas for improvement. Standardized tests also enhance an individual teacher’s ability to evaluate students. They show what particular areas a student is strong in, versus ones they are not. This in turn will allow teachers to adjust their methods to focus on educating students based on what was difficult in the past. Lastly, standardized testing means objective evaluation from outside sources instead of teachers. While common classroom problems, like favoritism, can be reflected in tests designed by teachers, standardized testing lets the student escape from that bias.
Yes, standardized testing should be abolished. Testing can be a sensitive subject for some students. In some ways, standardized testing evaluates student knowledge. However, standardized testing ignores the reality that many students struggle with test taking skills, which is not a reflection of their academic success or overall intellectual abilities. Students often make silly mistakes and get nervous which can affect their performance on standardized tests. Even if they studied, those test scores become the only measure that reflects the student’s effort and knowledge of the subject. Tests like the SAT can determine where those students can go to college, and they are touted as predicting a test taker’s success in life. Yet, this has repeatedly been proven wrong. Many people who scored low on standardized tests are very successful, so why do we need these tests to tell us if we will fail or succeed? Another problem is that standardized tests ignore that not all schools prepare their students for standardized tests to the same degree. If one school district has fewer resources and students have a harder time learning, as a result, the students might not be fully prepared to take these tests. Is it fair that economically disadvantaged students have to compete with other students in more privileged situations? Test scores unfairly give more privileged students, and students with better test taking skills more opportunities in life. This is an unfair way to judge a person’s potential to be successful, as well as an inaccurate representation of learning. Many students end up memorizing facts for a test, and don’t even recall most of the information a few months later.
School should be about preparing students for the real world, setting them up to have many opportunities in life, and giving them the tools to take full advantage of those opportunities. The way I see it, despite the slim benefits, standardized testing largely limits access to opportunity, and is not conducive to true learning. A test should not be the determining factor in whether a student can attain success. After all, an individual is multifaceted and complex, and any method of evaluating that individual’s academic merit and potential should be equally nuanced.