How Well Do Standardized Tests Measure Your Abilities?
Standardized tests have been a major part of student life in America for more than 50 years. Now, students in the U.S are taking more of these omnipresent and pressure-packed tests than before. Many standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT are a major contributor for college admission, and have become harder on students. Even though I see their potential and the reasoning behind them, I believe that standardized tests have become a poor way of measuring students’ abilities.
Tests used to be just for evaluating students, but now they areused to evaluate teachers, students, and entire educational systems. We are being tested on subjects we haven’t gone to college for, spent countless hours reading and learning about, and to have us take atest every three or four weeks on information that was just thrown out at us is crazy. We should not be expected to know all the little details in every class, while also being piled up with information on four or more other classes. We should not be tested on how well we can analyze every little detail in books, or memorize every single issue or problem from history. We should be tested on how well we know the knowledge in ways we believe can be a better evaluation, instead of just memorizing everything. Students are extremely busy with sports and other after school clubs, and we shouldn’t have to stress and base our entire four years of High School on whether or not we will get a good test grade when there are more important things we can be doing that we enjoy.
Many students, like myself, do extremely well on essays, projects, and homework assignments, but fail to prove our knowledge on a bunch of questions that seem to be written to throw us off. Tests must require or demonstrate some valuable knowledge or skill, like knowing how to multiply, how to find the energy associated with a color, understanding World War II, and being able to think critically. These test requirements come from state boards of education and national organizations. It is completely possible for students to fail tests on these topics yet still have the mathematical abilities or historical knowledge the teachers were looking for. Recently, several parents and students have opted out of these standardized tests, questioning the value of federal, state, and district testing, saying they want to exercise the right to opt out, boycott, or refuse.
This is because they believe they are setting children up for failure, and they don’t see the point behind these tests. I strongly believe that standardized tests generally do not do a good job of assessing skills and knowledge that will be valuable to me and to society as a whole. I think tests usually fail to measure my true understanding or ability of my knowledge on a certain subject, such as cramming every battle, enemy, catastrophe, and movement from our past. Even if I spent several hours studying and rereading these chapters or topics, standardized test just seem to set me up for failure. Other students spend countless hours at night, getting limited hours of sleep, studying for these tests that they usually end up doing bad on because they aren’t good at taking tests. In a recent standardized test, the PSAT, we were tested on questions that weren’t even in a fair level of math skills.
This year, I’m taking Algebra II, and the skills that were needed on the tests were on subjects we haven’t learned, and will not be learning throughout this year. However, many students in Calculus understood these questions, and could easily answer most of them. I only answered 3 of the questions confidently, guessing on the rest of the questions that seemed most logical because I have never been taught how to do those types of problems. I don’t think this is fair considering the SAT that we will be taking at the end of the year may have the same sort of math problems that several Algebra kids can’t do, even though these sort of tests can be a major contribution to our acceptance into colleges. I believe there are several other ways that students can prove and show their knowledge of these subjects without taking standardized tests.
Even things like writing an essay about a certain time period, or coming up with problems in any math class and proving we can solve them, would be a much more effective way to prove we know the information we’re being taught than a true or false question. In the world outside of school, we will always have our resources around us. We have the internet for questions we don’t know, and can always go to friends, family, or other workers that would know how to help us. Taking tests on some of these same subjects and topics is useless because all they are asking us to do is memorize every little detail that the teacher is looking for. Having to memorize dates, people, equations, and everything else, when we eventually forget all of the information several weeks later, is pointless because outside of the building we sit in for 7 hours a day, we can easily use all the resources around us with no restrictions.
Education shouldn’t just be about memorizing facts and taking tests It should be learning about how we can use our knowledge in the real world. Standardized testing does not accurately measure student’s full potential and ability in varying academic subject areas because these tests often focus on trying to trick the test takers through various complicated directions and answers while also concentrating on the time constraints rather than allowing the student enough time to finish the test to the best of their ability. I think tests such as ACT and SAT’s carry too much weight in determining college eligibility, because it doesn’t test one’s intelligence, it’s simply a test that tests how well your teacher has taught you throughout the year, and how much information you can remember and recite. It seems that nowadays, school isn’t about learning, it’s about passing. How can one’s intelligence be based on a multiple choice test? There are people who are very intelligent, but their skills and abilities are not in these standardized tests. Several colleges look into student’s scores and abilities in their ACT and SAT tests, but it doesn’t even show what they are actually capable of.
That’s why the question of whether any standardized test is adequate or needed to evaluate certain sorts of student’s learning.