Standardized Testing: To be or not to be that is the Question
Standardized Testing, most of us have experienced it to some degree. In recent years however, standardized tests has become increasing used in the educational system. Schools have changed a lot since I have been in the secondary school system; but the debate of standardized testing is one that remains to be same. This debate comes down to one simple question “Should standardized tests be used in evaluating a student’s potential progress in post-secondary education or should we discontinue the use of our current tests for a more user friendly approach.”
Standardized tests whether it is the SAT or ACT for admission to colleges, the SSAT for private school or the GRE (Which in most states is the test that is required for admission to graduate programs) play a huge role in the admissions process. The formatting of these tests are very simple “Standardized;” the creators tried to make a test that would be the same throughout. This way the test would not give an advantage to anyone who had access to better resources, or create a disadvantage to those who come from a less funded district. Although students who go to prep schools may have other advantages, Standardized tests are generally designed so that everyone who takes them has the same opportunities to perform to the best of their abilities.
If standardized tests are designed to be neutral in the content that is covered, why do supporters of education argue that these tests should be abolished? Standardized testing tends to have a strict, uniform administration and scoring procedures, which in term ranks a significant amount of students relating them to their level of achievement in a specific area of knowledge. This procedure tends to make students feel pressured which may affect the way they score on the test.
College admissions’ testing has been around since around the early part of the 1900’s. But for the past few years, more and more researchers are bringing forth information over the use of these tests in College admissions. Due to this information that has been introduced, some colleges no longer require students to submit ACT or SAT scores and have even gone as far as to implement a test-optional policy. The debate of the use of standardized tests in college admissions continues to be an ongoing topic in the educational system.
Supporters of standardized testing, in regards to the admission process say that the SAT and ACT serve as a national standardized scale that is practical in determining how prepared students are for college level course work, also they are effective in preparing students for college, give schools an offset in grade inflation and are objective.
On the other hand there are some who argue against the use of these tests, their claim is that standardized tests use to be an effective method in determining college admissions, but are no longer effective. Supporters of creating a new system for college preparation and admissions argue that standardized tests are biased against certain groups, add more stress in student’s lives and tend to impede assessment of more important skills. Other factors that can affect a student’s overall performance on a test are: Time, Other outside forces, lack of sleep, illness and the most common factor which is not being a test taker.
Standardized tests have made many Educators question whether or not the use of standardized testing is creating more achievement for students or causing more underachievers and even dropouts.
From my experiences with standardized testing, I feel there has to be better methods for evaluating a student’s success rate in college level course work. Testing has always been a problem for me, when applying for colleges and in my case teacher education programs, ACT and/or SAT scores are a huge factor in determining what classes you can get into. Almost everything that deals with your college education is based off of test scores, which in opinion needs to be changed.
I agree that testing is here for a reason, It is here to evaluate student progress and to monitor subjects areas that need to be improved, which give students better opportunities to help them succeed, however there are other tests available for students and schools to monitor these skills other than using standardized testing. And one person argued just that.
Richard C. Atkinson, the former president and regent of the University of California presented his proposal during the annual meeting of the American Council on Education; he argued that standardized tests might not be the most effective measure in evaluating students over-all abilities when it came down to college admissions. Although most colleges and universities today require such scores he felt that Achievement tests were a lot fairer to students because it allows them to be measured on accomplishment rather than aptitude. These tests can also be used to show areas of improvement based on student performance; Achievement tests are less likely to include cultural and socioeconomic bias and are a more appropriate method for schools because it gives very clear guidelines that are based on curricular standards set by the school. These tests also allow students to see that a college education is an option for anyone who has the determination and talent to succeed.
In conclusion I feel that using achievement tests instead of requiring students to take standardized tests would allow schools to teach more of the curriculum and move away from teaching from the tests they are required to administer. I also feel that colleges and universities should move to re-define their testing policies to reflect an optional use for Standardized test scores. This would allow schools to better reward the excellence accomplishments by students and would lessen the barriers that students face when realizing their potential.
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Atkinson, Richard C. “Achievement Versus Aptitude Tests in College Admissions.” University of California | Office of the President. University of California, Dec. 2001. Web. 05 Apr. 2011. <http://www.ucop.edu/pres/speeches/achieve.htm>.
Edwards, N.T. “The Historical and Social Foundations of Standardized Testing . . . by by N.T. Edwards.” JALT | Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn. Yamaguchi University, 1 Mar. 2006. Web. 05 Apr. 2011. <http://jalt.org/test/edw_1.htm>.
“Richard C. Atkinson.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 17 Mar. 2011. Web. 05 Apr. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_C._Atkinson>.
“The ACT: Biased, Inaccurate, and Misused | FairTest.” The National Center for Fair & Open Testing | FairTest. FairTest, 20 Aug. 2007. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. http://fairtest.org/act-biased-inaccurate-and-misused.