Standardized Testing in United States Schools

Schools across the United States have become accustomed to the idea of standardized testing and use these tests constantly throughout the school year. Many children even start these tests at the young age of 11. There are a variety of tests such as the SAT, ACT, and PERT, which are the focal measurements determining acceptance into most colleges. The main question is, should these standardized tests be mandatory at all high schools? This topic has been widely debated throughout the years, but based on research conducted by researchers, journalists, etc. the answer is yes. The fact that standardized tests are reliable, objective measurements of student and teacher achievement, and an educational reference point to ensure fair school education across the nation are just two of the many reasons why all high schools should mandate these tests.

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It is human nature to make mistakes and have biased opinions, but with the use of standardized testing, it provides an objective measurement of student and teacher achievement. Contrary to popular belief, teachers have a large impact on students grades unintentionally from the unreliability of the scores through favoritism and error. According to Richard P. Phelps, author of Defending Standardized testing, it is stated, First, there is the benefit of information used for diagnosis (e.g., of a student’s or teacher’s problems or progress). Standardized tests may reveal weaknesses or strengths that corroborate or supplement a teacher’s or principal’s analysis. (Phelps). The basis of Phelps argument is that the information produced by the tests helps determine teacher and student achievement. Standardized tests also ascertain whether there is a positive or negative correlation between the two, as in if the teacher had prepared the student successfully enough or whether the student possesses the capable skills to pass the given test. To summarize the previous statement, The Huffington Post expresses similar viewpoints. According to Dr. Gail Gross, contributor to the Huffington Post, The standardized test is an objective and critical measure of achievement in skills, knowledge, and abilities, and must pass the criteria of measurement validity, reliability, and bias, as well as an awareness of the test’s potential limitations in scoring (Gross). What can be understood from these two quotes is that one benefit of standardized testing is making sure that each participant of the test is graded fairly and objectively to ensure the best possible results of the student’s achievement.

Besides the understanding of individual student academic achievements provided by standardized testing, it also acts as an educational reference point for schoolwide and nationwide success. According to Dr. Gail Gross from the Huffington Post, The standardized test gives valuable insight into broader issues, such as acting as an education reference point for fair and equitable education for all children in all schools ” district by district and state by state (Gross). Most standardized tests provide percentages of school’s passing rates and group them throughout the school district to show what schools need further funding and help to overall better their students’ education. These large decisions concerning further amplification of the school’s educational curriculum are made by the districts School Board, in which the superintendent of that district plays a major role. In low-income neighborhoods and cities, students test scores tend to be lower than those of the more fortunate due to lack of proper materials, funding, and other vital resources needed to ultimately pass the test. According to Defending Standardized Testing, there has been a conducted survey of 1,023 parents of children who attend school, in which it was found that 83% of the responding participants believe that tests provide important information about their children’s educational progress, and even further, 9 out of 10 wanted data to compare and contrast the scores of their children and the schools they attend. (Phelps). In arguing this claim, Phelps used the conducted survey of children’s test scores from standardized testing to show that not only do these tests provide crucial information regarding academic achievement but assess the comparison of the scores throughout the schools that take it. This overall benefits the schools throughout the district because it can assess the schools progress to the School Board, negative or positive.

On the other hand, some people might argue and constantly scrutinize standardized testing based on the mere fact that it can cause students to become very stressed and overwhelmed. According to Francois R. Casas and Diane E. Meaghan, co-authors of Renewing the Debate Over the Use of Standardized Testing in the Evaluation of Learning and Teaching, Standardized tests are not suitable for all students: the pressure they exert on children is of a different nature than that encountered daily in the classroom. (Casas, Meaghan). In other words, Casas and Meaghan emphasize the stress applied to children when studying for and taking standardized tests instructed in their curriculum. This may be true in some cases, on how each person participating in this test is different and have different amounts of stress they can deal with, which can be tricky when it comes to the day of the test. This is certainly not a factor to rule out because, understandably, the negative impacts these tests have on children are serious. However, with further adjustment to the curriculum, the overall benefit of these tests outweighs the negative impacts that can sometimes, but quite seldomly occur.

In the final analysis, standardized tests are crucial and overall advantageous because they are reliable and objective measures of student achievement and serve as an educational reference point to ensure fair school education in all schools. The practice and use of standardized tests persist with high hopes of counteracting the negative effects, alongside the desire to intensify and strengthen the positive outcomes that are the result of these tests. The debate over this topic is far from over and will continue to be researched as more effective standardized tests arise in schools over periods of time.

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Standardized Testing in United States Schools. (2019, Jun 24). Retrieved February 1, 2023 , from

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