Standardized tests hurt students

Grace Vanderhei, Chief Editor

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We are all familiar with standardized testing. We probably took our first regulated exam sometime in elementary school, and continue to take them annually since then. Whether that be the ACT, ACT Aspire, SAT, Wisconsin Forward Exam, etc. students are familiar with the burden of comparative exams that average individual intelligence. Schools across the nation require students to partake in tests, inducing stress and anxiety. Not only do these tests influence the quality of future education, but they also “supposedly” measure how prepared a student is for their future. How is it possible that a single test has the power to predict how successful a person will be? Honestly, I don’t think it does. These standardized exams that we are forced to take have the intent to measure readiness, but in reality, all standardized testing adds to the chaos of other aspects of life, including school, work, personal relationships, and extracurricular activities.

The grip standardize exams have in school systems is extreme; not only do these exams cause mental anguish in students of all ages, but they also are cause for competition between students and schools. Tests that are said to measure where a student academically stands to take the focus away from classroom education and in turn shifts attention towards preparing for a test, taking away student success in school. Teachers alter the way they conduct their classes based on the results of such tests. Instead of teaching subject-related material, teachers change classroom approach to prepare students better for a single exam. While these modifications may enhance test scores, student ability to learn or express creativity may suffer.   

As schools adjust curriculum and staff alter teaching styles, children lose the ability to express creativity in the classroom.

A 2010 study conducted by William & Mary college found that American creativity has been dropping since 1990, the results were tested after participants completed the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. As a response to this study, Kyung-Hee Kim, a researcher, claims standardized testing is to blame. He said, “If we neglect creative students in school because of the structure and the testing movement… then they become underachievers.”

Not only do these exams impede creativity in the classroom, but standardized tests enforce a “limited scope of learning.” A typical test will only assess certain areas such as reading, mathematics, and writing. Standardized exams don’t assess other important qualities like team-work, efficiency, motivation, etc.

Besides stumping soft-skills development, standardized exams create gaps in the educational system and impact the self-esteem of a student. As curriculum essentially forces children to advert their studies to prepare for exams, teachers are compelled to focus their energy on students who need the most preparation, or those who struggle while taking tests or that don’t have the necessary information to complete the exam. Especially because the standardized test doesn’t consider external factors, some students are put at a loss. Therefore, students are divided into groups, those who receive little attention and those who receive more attention. These gaps mainly target students considered to be gifted and others who thrive with skill-based learning. If a student performs poorly on a test as a result of these gaps, they may begin questioning their abilities and themselves. A low test score may make a student feel incapable, especially those who are knowledgeable but have test anxiety.  

It is unfair for a test to determine so much about the abilities of a student based on a single day evaluation. There is no way such assessments can measure total growth that a student has accomplished in their educational life. Ultimately, what do school gain from forcing students to take standardized exams?