Home > Standardized Testing > Standardized Testing is a Major Flaw

Standardized Testing is a Major Flaw

Imagine you are seven years old.  You have been studying one topic in class for the past month to prepare for a test.  It is pressed and stressed on you to do well on this test, to study hard and to try to pass.  You worry about this test, spend time studying for this test, and then finally take this test.  Now imagine you do this every school year until graduation.  After all of the time, energy, and effort put into taking these tests you finally find out that this test’s main purpose is to rank your school’s performance in comparison to other schools.  This is a standardized test.  The legal definition of a standardized test is:

 A test administered and scored in a consistent or standard manner is a standardized test. A standardized test is administered under standardized or controlled conditions that specify where, when, how, and for how long children respond to the questions. In standardized tests, the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent. A well designed standardized test provides an assessment of an individual’s mastery of a domain of knowledge or skill (“Standardized Test”).

In a test where every possible condition is monitored and designed so that every child is in the same setting, one critical point is missed; every child is not the same.  A major flaw in the education system today is the use of standardized tests to evaluate student, teacher and school performance.

The use of standardized test is a major topic in the education reform debate today.  There are many negative aspects of standardized tests being discussed.  One major issue is that standardized tests are an inaccurate account of student  performance. There are many factors that can influence how well a child does on a test. Some children may not be good at taking tests, some may find the setting of standardized tests stressful, some students may be really intelligent in the classroom, but are unable to read or write well.  Not to mention all of the outside factors affecting a child, such as how much they sleep, how much they had to eat, family life, etc.  I personally had a hard time on standardized tests that had a time limit because it made me rush and not take time to fully think about or answer a question. Standardized tests are not good indicators of how much a child knows because there are too many factors that can influence how well a student does on a test.

These tests are not fair or truthful when it comes to assessing teacher performance either.  A great teacher may have circumstances that prevent their students from doing well on the test. Teachers should not be held accountable for low student test scores.  As I have already mentioned there are many reasons for why a student does bad on a test, teacher performance is one of these.  Some teachers may be limited on creativity and what they can teach because they have to stress what is on the standardized tests. Standardized tests are inhibiting a teacher’s freedom in the classroom and are not allowing them to perform to their full potential.  Frank Pignatelli, professor at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City, states “Highstakes testing, tightly scripted curricula, fixed blocks of instructional time, and all the associated practices and policies that drive toward uniformity and sameness regardless of interest, need, and the best judgment of educators situated in specific contexts present a danger and cause suffering.”  An educator should have guidelines on what they should teach, but they should be allowed creativity and innovation on how they teach these things so that every teacher is not the same.

I will admit that standardized tests are useful when it comes to an overall ranking of student performance. They are good indicators of what students are or are not learning. However, students should not be rewarded or punished for how well they do on these tests. According to the President of Authentic Education is Hopewell, New Jersey, Grant Wiggins, “standardized tests can give us surprisingly valuable and counterintuitive insights into what our students are not learning.” The tests should be administered, but the amount of pressure and emphasis put on standardized tests should be lowered.

Standardized testing is a major issue in education reform and it is an issue that must be addressed and altered. These tests are inaccurate assessments of student and teacher performance and neither students nor teachers should be reprimanded for the outcomes of these tests.  The use of these tests are beneficial in some areas but not in evaluating intelligence levels. Doing well on standardized tests is something that is stressed on students from elementary school, but this a custom in schools that should and must be changed.

Works Cited

Pignatelli, Frank. “Everyday Courage in the Midst of Standardization in Schools.” Encounter 23.2 (2010): 1-4. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 Apr. 2011.

“Standardized Test [Education] Law & Legal Definition.” Legal Definitions Legal Terms Dictionary. Web. 04 Apr. 2011.


Wiggins, Grant. “Why We Should Stop Bashing State Tests.” Educational Leadership 67.6 (2010): 48-52. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 Apr. 2011.

Categories: Standardized Testing
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