Standardized Testing Needs to Be Abolished

Maya Colchamiro

Standardized testing has been a common practice in America for decades. Many students, like myself, cannot remember a time without it. Whether the test at hand is the recurring Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), or the SAT, students feel immense pressure to succeed. Many students spend weeks, if not months or years, solely preparing for the standardized college admission exams. These tests are too important in determining a child or teen’s future. These tests do not allow students to display creativity, and they reduce answers to four letters on a bubble sheet. Students are not permitted to provide an argument or any reasoning as to why the answer they have chosen is correct. This fuels the school system’s long-term goal of mass-producing average workers. The American Institute for learning and human development explains, “Standardized tests don’t value creativity.  A student who writes a more creative answer in the margins of such a test, doesn’t realize that a human being won’t even see this creative response; that machines grade these tests, and a creative response that doesn’t follow the format is a wrong response.” This adds to the hatred that many students feel towards school, and the education system as a whole. The system does not value skills outside of the core four subjects. No matter how much schools try to emphasize that different skills can be equally important, the education system rewards students who succeed and excel at common academic subjects.

Additionally, there are a multitude of fundamental flaws in college admission testing which skew the playing field towards teenagers who were born into a wealthier family. First of all, teenagers who do not have to work in order to support their families have more time to study for these intricate and tedious tests. These tests often include vocabulary or math skills that have to be learned outside of a typical classroom setting. Teenagers who are more financially privileged also have greater access to SAT preparation classes and tutors. These courses can dramatically improve a student’s score, and therefore increase their chances of admission to top schools. Finally, the SAT and ACT both include and have previously included vocabulary that wealthier teenagers are more inclined to know solely from exposure. The Education Post states, “There are other ways tests can be biased. There was a famous example in the 1990s when an SAT question asked for the best analogy between ‘runner’ and ‘marathon.’ The answer was ‘oarsman’ and ‘regatta,’ vocabulary that might only be familiar to wealthy teenagers. This was a prime example of socio-economic bias.” Poor teens are not simply at a slight disadvantage; the system is against them and their potential opportunities.

While some may say that standardized testing helps teachers and schools recognize which students need additional support, schools often are more concerned with the general performance, which provides them with state funding. Teachers should be more attentive in realizing which students need more help. It is especially important that teachers be careful with paying attention to the students and what they are learning because many tend to feel pressured or stressed while taking a test. This test anxiety can lead to a worse performance, even if the individual student knows and comprehends the material. Standardized testing also commonly forces teachers to repeat only the information they know will be on tests like the SBA. This also distorts the data and results of the assessment. The students may not comprehend the information, but they have heard the same thing repeatedly. The test is so concrete that students do not even have to understand the material, they just have to select a single option: A, B, C, or D.

Children learn the methods and strategies useful to standardized testing, but they also learn to limit their creativity. While standardized testing can be useful, it provides unnecessary stress and irreparable harm to the children who hate learning. Standardized testing, especially for the purpose of college admission, needs to be permanently abolished.