Standardized Testing: Vital, Yet Unnecessary



Jennifer Walmach, Writer

Standardized testing has been part of the American educational system since the mid-1800s. Over the years, many of the proponents who defend and encourage these tests claim that they are fair as they are able to precisely determine a student’s intellectual abilities. The idea of these tests may seem smart and reliable, but there are many reasons as to why they do not work and are ineffective in measuring students’ abilities in school. Using these tests that could potentially jeopardize students’ future educational studies, such as college, is cruel.

I personally do not find it fair that test scores can be used to determine our intelligence, let alone that the people grading these tests have no idea who we are as individuals and do not know what we are capable of. These companies are unable to walk in the shoes of students as they are not the ones taking these unfair, poorly designed tests. Almost everyone struggles with anxiety, it’s become normal, especially for high schoolers. Anxiety can affect our performances while taking these tests as well. It’s not that we do not know the answers, we feel too nervous and pressured to share what we have learned and we get overwhelmed.

How does requiring students to bubble in an answer that best fits a question determine the intellectual abilities of students? Typically, there are four possible answers while answering a question. When it comes down to a student not knowing the information presented within the question, there is a one in four chance that the student may get lucky and end up guessing the right answer. In addition, the time period required to complete these tests increase students’ stress and anxiety if they already have trouble understanding the questions. Simply making guesses during an allotted period of time is not an appropriate assessment of our knowledge or skills. If it is, then are we, the students, just being graded on our ability as a test taker?

Additionally, students with reading challenges or other learning disabilities may also struggle with the wording/phrasing of some of the questions within the test. These companies do not take into consideration that everyone does not think the same way and by simply providing “extended time” to those students, it only prolongs discomfort and suffering. 

Since this is the “age of technology,” most schools take these tests online using computers and other expensive pieces of technology. Financial issues may arise in districts/communities/neighborhoods that are not equipped with such tools such as computers and whatnot. This may anger taxpayers as they may not be able to afford the rising of taxes for their local schools. Standardized tests cost states over 1.7 billion dollars per year. This money could have been used for more essential tools and necessities, such as new books, technology, etc. that can actually lead to a better educational environment. 

My point is, I’m not here to say that we should definitely banish these tests, I just think that these tests need to be designed differently. Even though I am not in favor of these tests, they can be used as a tool for learning and understanding students.  This topic is more controversial as it may seem, just like any other issue. There will always be those who agree and disagree. But if these standardized tests are not properly designed and are given the wrong use, they may end up measuring the wrong subjects for what is being tested on.