Is It Time to Let Go of Standardized Testing?

Fall is finally here! The cold wind blows as the yellowing leaves gracefully fall onto the ground. Children jump onto piles of leaves, screaming with joy. Yet, many students in high school are overwhelmed with stress due to the upcoming exams that loom over their heads. The SATs and ACTs are right around the corner and the scores that students receive have a great impact on their college admissions. Standardized testing has been used by schools for decades, but is it time to reconsider how effective it truly is and if it should even be utilized?

Standardized testing is helpful in a multitude of ways. For one, it creates a universal standard for education and allows for the evaluation of schools. According to the School of Education, “Standardized testing requirements are designed to hold teachers, students, and schools accountable for academic achievement and to incentivize improvement. They provide a benchmark for assessing problems and measuring progress, highlighting areas for improvement” (School of Education). 

It may also prepare students for higher education where there may be standardized tests of greater importance, such as the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). 

Lindsay, a sophomore at LHS, stated that “Standardized tests can help enhance a student’s learning ability and give them the experience of an important test.” When asked for an example of how standardized testing is useful, Lindsay explained, “Pre-standardized tests such as the PSAT prepare students for the SAT and give them an idea of the questions they may face on the actual test.”

At first glance, standardized testing seems to be a great tool that should be used in schools nationally. However it comes with its disadvantages as well — the greatest being the fact that it often cannot measure the academic ability of all students accurately. 

Standardized tests fail to account for certain factors that may affect test scores, such as difficult home lives or being unable to speak English fluently. Additionally, students that come from wealthier backgrounds often have greater access to test preparation resources, which in turn can allow them to score better compared to a student who may not have the money to access those resources. 

Standardized tests are also incapable of measuring other strengths that students may have as they often only contain questions related to mathematics and language arts.

Quite possibly the largest disadvantage to standardized testing is the stress and pressure that is put on students. “I felt pressured because I feel that I have to do well,” says Yerin, a sophomore who had recently taken the PSAT. “I think this is the main reason why everyone, including myself, is stressed because ensuring that we get a good score on the standardized test allows us to have a wider range of colleges to select from.”

In some cases, standardized testing may be necessary, especially when it comes to higher education. It also creates a benchmark for schools that can evaluate the performance of teachers and students. However, it often adds unnecessary pressure on students and cannot accurately measure students’ progress or intelligence. Though we shouldn’t abolish standardized testing altogether, it may also be time to begin exploring alternative methods that are more effective and accurate.