No matter what path we choose, we can never escape the reality of taking tests; there are different versions of them everywhere we go. Ranging from driving tests, standardized tests, even tests for the careers we want to pursue. Students believe once they leave school they would be free from this imprisonment, however it never goes away. Should we just remove standardized tests from schools all together? Some believe standardized tests are an accurate measure of intelligence such as Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University, who says “Testing… is not the problem… information derived from tests can be extremely valuable, if the tests are valid and reliable”. As for others who oppose to Ravitch’s argument like Daniel Koretz, psychometrician, who says standardized tests “… usually do not provide a direct and complete measure of educational achievement”.
Considering all research found, standardized tests are not an accurate measure of intelligence. For reasons such as teachers “teach to test”, testing produces stress, and they fail to measure important qualities like creativity. There are other ways you can measure a student’s academic performance and achievements instead of a sixty question standardized test. Colleges do not only look into each and every student’s academic grades and test scores, but also in things such as extracurricular activities. It is known that colleges would most likely accept those who are involved with their school’s activities and have good grades than someone who solely based their life on just academics. Some colleges like George Washington University have already taken the action of not requiring standardized tests like the SAT.
One main reason standardized tests don’t correctly measure intelligence is because teachers tend to “teach to the test”. Teachers mostly emphasize their teaching towards the topics that will be expected on the upcoming test. The goal of tests are to find out how well you problem solve or express opinions, not to find out what you’re able to memorize. Students temporarily memorize the answers to a test; however when the tests are taken students forget the information they have just learned. Brookings Institution conducted a study in 2001 and found 50%-80% of year-to-year test score improvements were temporary . Standardized tests are basically encouraging students to become superficial thinkers- to seek the quick and easy answer. By teaching to the test students are only able to hold information for a short term. For example if a student were to be given a question about the difference between a prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell, they’d probably know the answer, however, they don’t know why the answer is correct. They just know the surface level of the topic and aren’t actually comprehending the information they are learning. If you were to ask students the why of a topic, most likely they wouldn’t be able to answer since they have been taught to just know the right answer instead of actually knowing why the answer is correct. Teachers’ jobs are to help guide the future to the right path, but ironically it seems like they are actually leading us to the easy path which is causing students to become artificial thinkers.
During the stressful time of exams, students tend to binge, study, and stress. Many students stress constantly about their upcoming exams that they believe will make or break them, causing them to blank out and have test jitters the day of the test. If students were to take standardized tests for one week after binge studying for one night, their scores would be significantly lower than if they were to have studied. Binge studying is when a student tries to cram everything they have learned all in two days or a couple of hours before a huge test. Standardized tests reduce the richness of human experience and human learning to a number or a set of numbers. Gregory J. Cizek, education researcher, says “illustrating how testing… produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both”. Tests produces so much stress and anxiety in students that even in March 14,2002, the Sacramento Bee reported that test jitters were so common that the Stanford-9 exam had instructions on how to deal with a student vomiting on a test booklet.
Moreover, they fail to measure important qualities like creativity and critical thinking skills. Creative people such as artists aren’t tested to measure to their artistic ability and creativity. Maybe you’re not getting the top grades at school, but are constantly juggling important duties at home. Your reliability when it comes to fulfilling your responsibilities is an important characteristic trait that standardized tests cannot measure. Standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are also timed which are unfair to those who don’t think as fast compared to others. Being a slow reader doesn’t mean the student doesn’t understand the information, moreover it just takes them longer to read and fully comprehend what they are reading. A person may not right away have the correct answers, but their determination to find them will get them very far in life. Having a good work ethic isn’t obvious from a sixty question test that is taken in four hours, but employers will notice right away by your dedication whether or not you are a hard worker. Furthermore, having athletic ability or artistic ability won’t be factored into your test score. There are multiple careers in the world that don’t require standardized tests such as being an artist, an athlete, and a famous singer, etc. Standardized tests only measure a small portion of what makes education meaningful and reduces the richness of the information being learned. Studies have shown that standardized test reward superficial thinking and may discourage more analytical thinking.
Taking all into consideration, standardized tests do not accurately measure intelligence. By having standardized tests, teachers tend to “teach to the test” changing students into becoming artificial thinkers. Tests fail to measure important qualities such as creativity, and provide students a huge load of stress by binge studying. Due to the fact that standardized tests have affected the health of students, some universities have decided not to require ACT/SAT scores for admission.
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