What is a Standardized Test?

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Standardized tests are not the best indicators of intelligence for all students. Increasing numbers of studies are indicating that standardized testing does not properly assess the true knowledge of students. In fact, even honors students have been known to be held back because of poor Standardized testing results.

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They place minimal feedback to classroom teachers. In addition, standardized tests place additional stresses on teachers who are commonly evaluated on their students’ results. Teachers are less able to adapt to the learner differences of their students. These teachers are not incentivized to prepare their students for future excellence in a subject, but are motivated to make sure their students perform well on one test. Finally, they create a grade-responsive mindset. With a grade-responsive mindset, students are more inclined to cheat to perform well. Students who are non-standard thinkers, which is more recognized every year, are penalized, ostracized and often held back regardless of their success in the classrooms, due to these poor standardized test results. Such stresses completely oppose American values about individuality and self worth. Standardized testing does not accurately assess every students knowledge, it places avoidable stress and limitations on teachers, and it places undue stress on students who feel very pressured to score well. Standardized tests are not accurate when measuring the knowledge of students.

When you are calculating the knowledge of students, these test scores are unreliable because they only evaluate the skill and performance of a student during the time the student is taking the test. This is unfair to a student that tries their best during the whole course of a class just to get a non-satisfactory score on a standardized test because they feel rushed or pressured. There may be students who are going through personal issues away from school which may affect their test-taking abilities. The usage of standardized tests allows students who may be going through distractions to be severely punished for something possibly out of their control. Other students are unable to realize the importance of these tests and the impact they may have on their futures and do not try their best, which results in inaccurate test results and below average grades for these uninspired test takers. Students who receive grades that are below average for them are not the only problem, either. Standardized testing allows for students who may have not been the most knowledgeable about one of their classes or courses to receive a grade that inaccurately represents them as a higher-level student, when in reality they got lucky on a test. While this system may be rewarding to these lower-level student in these instances, it also has the potential to discredit and belittle higher-level students who may have received unsatisfactory test scores. This potential for inaccuracy removes a large amount of credibility from standardized testing results and discredits the current system we have in place today. These standardized tests fail to take into account any previous effort or work a student has put into a class, whether they excelled or struggled.

Teachers of the students partaking in standardized tests may possibly be even more affected by the tests than the test-takers are. This is due to the fact that teachers are evaluated and judged by the scores their students receive on these standardized tests. This creates an immense amount of pressure for teachers to deal with and heavily limits their teaching abilities. Because teachers are evaluated by their students’ scores, they’re further incentivized to teach according to what will be on the test. This incentive for teachers does harm to the learning environment of students in multiple ways. One way this harms students is that teachers have no reason to prepare their students for future success in a subject. This makes teachers constantly go over the necessities for receiving a good grade on a standardized test, while not preparing their students for the subject for future years. This can cause students to miss out on essential information to their course if it’s not going to be present on a standardized test. Another byproduct of this incentive is that these students’ future teachers will have to teach them the information they missed out on, giving them less time to prepare them for another inevitable standardized test.

Standardized tests also act as a guide for teachers throughout the year, which also has a negative effect on their teaching ability. The second way this harms students is that since teachers are supposed to teach in a way that prepares students for the standardized test, this can prevent teachers from having any uniqueness or individuality with their teaching. This also limits how they teach. Teachers may have the urge to teach their class certain methods or tricks to help them with their academics, but can be limited by the guidelines and instructions of preparations for the standardized test. This, again, attacks the individuality and originality of teachers, making the learning experience of students much more dull and hard to grasp. This strict adherence to the test preparations teachers face can prevent teachers from adhering to individual students’ needs and preferences when being taught. Since not all students benefit from the same methods of teaching, this adherence teachers face benefits some students and harms others, which is unfair to those harmed students. The evaluation of teachers based on their students’ results in their standardized tests alters the methods in which they would normally teach.

Due to the fact that students know they’re being judged heavily on one test, a grade-responsive mindset is formed in them. Students know that none of their previous work in a course affects their grades on their test, so this can create a sense of panic and stress. Many students turn to alternatives, a popular one being cheating. Students not feeling confident in their test-taking abilities may end up attempting to cheat on a standardized test. This, again, shows the inaccuracy of the system and proves the unreliability. Another result of this academic dishonesty is that students will not be prepared for future courses having not learned anything, and they will continue their pattern of cheating, causing these scores to become more and more inaccurate. Students who may not feel the need to turn to cheating, though, may spend countless hours studying and stressing over one test. The stress and anxiety caused from this exhaustion may even cause their test grades to be lower than they should be. This, once again, displays and explains exactly why the scores of these standardized tests are unreliable and should not be considered important. Students who work hard and still receive low test scores, possibly due to the alterations of teaching style and method, may develop low self-esteem. This disbelief in one’s self (caused after just one instance of a bad test) can permanently damage their ability to learn and take tests. Someone who put in an extreme amount of effort and came out of the test with a bad grade may never again have the confidence to work and study hard for a class. This formation of a grade-responsive mindset in students (and partially teachers) again represents the inaccuracy of these tests and the possibility of long-term effects in test takers.

The practice of standardized testing is outdated and impractical. Due to the inaccuracy and pressure applied to students and teachers from these standardized tests, the educational system needs to find a better method of evaluating their students and teachers.

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