The Issue on Standardized Testing

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Source: The Boston Globe

By Gizele Touré

Standardized testing orients us towards specific trains of thought that make our social interactions and collaborative skills smoother. It can also provide meaningful data that helps schools measure where students are academically and what they can improve upon. However, giving students too many tests without giving them enough time to prepare is like telling someone they need to be at a specific destination without giving them the means to get there.  

Standardized tests were created in the early 19th century by Frederick J. Kelly after millions of people began migrating to the US. With a larger number of children attending school, the government needed an assessment that would be able to test the academic abilities of students as quickly and as efficiently as possible. These tests would judge how students performed in math, science, English, and social studies. Before former President George W. Bush passed the No Child Left Behind Act, it was said that any student who passed could move on, and if they didn’t, they stayed. 

The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, was meant to help reform schools, but it did little to nothing for the education system. It forced students to score higher on the same tests given to previous students in the corresponding grade, only without giving them the correct tools to succeed. 

This remained unchanged until March of 2010, when the Obama administration took action to repeal it and turn it into a new act: the Every Student Succeeds Act. This was meant to make the government recognize their broken education system and force them to take responsibility, rightfully shifting the focus onto the individual student. Instead, it’s still stuck in the Industrial Revolution, continuously trying to “manufacture” students.

These standardized tests were made for standard minds. But in reality, there is no such thing as an average mind. Every individual has a different and complex brain system. These tests limit students to certain areas where only some did well, and others received little to no acknowledgement due to low test score markings. This continues to cause an unequal division between students and offers no real meaningful measure of progress. 

When it comes to applying for highly selective colleges and universities, I can understand why it may be fair to provide standardized tests like SATs and ACTs, as they can provide students two different opportunities to score higher on one or the other. But I do believe that there should be more ways to measure student ablilties, as SATs and ACTs can negatively affect students of lower incomes. Although they may perform extremely well in a certain subject(s), students of lower incomes are almost always immediately excluded from admission lists when colleges see exam scores lower than what they are looking for. Because of this, they are then unable to get into adequate universities/colleges and are instead forced to attend schools with broken education systems that don’t provide them with the enrichment that they need.  

To sum it up, schools should provide more ways to assess students and their abilities. They should be more focused on how to get students more involved in their studies and help nurture and develop the topics that they are already fond of. Not one person’s mind is the same and each student deserves their own acknowledgement. This can help pave the way for more inclusive and diverse education.