Cole S. Colorado

Why Standardized Tests are Bad

Standardized tests are inaccurate portrayals of learning at best, and actively detrimental at worst.

Dear Future President,

As a student, the topic of education is very important to me. Specifically, I believe that standardized tests are more detrimental than they are beneficial. Stuffy rooms with silent students, the air marred only by the sound of pencils lightly scratching on paper... every student in the United States is subjected to these tests on a yearly basis, and they all dread it. These standardized tests generate anxiety among students (myself included), and they often don't provide an accurate portrayal of any given individual.

Standardized tests encourage teachers to "teach the test," rather than teaching the material. In other words, they drill information into the student's heads that will enable them to pass the test, but never actually benefit them. It's an issue that is only perpetuated by the fact that most schools get funding based on test scores. The higher the school scores, the more funding they get. The more funding they get, the better they can teach the students. The better they can teach the students, the higher scores they get. It's a vicious cycle that locks some unfortunate students out of an effective education, and it's made possible by standardized tests.

In addition, many students suffer from "testing anxiety," in which they overly stress about upcoming tests. This anxiety reaches its peak in such a clinical environment as standardized tests, where silence is enforced and the smallest distraction is punished with a nullified score. I've felt its effects myself, and in all likelihood it has affected my final score negatively. It's a feeling I would like to avoid, but the annual claws of these tests invariably grab hold and subject me (and many others) to these negative effects.

Of course, there's arguments for standardized testing as well. According to researchers at Columbia University, one of the biggest reasons to use standardized tests as a measure of education is that they are graded by a machine - in other words, completely objective. However, this objectivity changes from fair to harsh when it is considered that many students simply cannot take tests well. An equal-minded system punishes those who may know the material, but cannot demonstrate in the way the education system desires.

As a member of the United States student population, I implore you to take another look at standardized tests, and ask yourself, "are they really working?"

-Cole S.