As a high school senior who excels and plans to attend college, education is extremely important to me. From my personal experience as a student, standardized tests and test prep for the SAT and Michigan Educational Assessment Program test have been detrimental to my ability to learn, as well as the quality of my learning. In addition, there is overwhelming evidence that confirms my negative experiences. Therefore, I firmly believe that the only solution is to eliminate standardized testing completely.
Here’s why: The No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2002, the year before I started school, and called for 100% of students to be proficient in English and math based on standardized testing scores by 2014. And while this seems to be the ideal goal, 100% proficiency would simply be unattainable no matter the parameters given, because every student has different abilities and it is unrealistic to expect every student to succeed with the one-size-fits-all education system our country has. This inability of standardized tests to measure student achievement is reflected in the US drop “from 18th in the world in math on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to 31st place in 2009, with a similar drop in science and no change in reading”. Proponents of NCLB-style testing also argue that teaching curriculum strictly to match tests improves the quality of teaching and “eliminates time-wasting activities”, however; standardized testing’s heavy focus on math and English has resulted in an imbalance of time being spent on other subjects. In fact, “A national 2007 study by the Center on Education Policy reported that since 2001, 44% of school districts had reduced the time spent on science, social studies and the arts by an average of 145 minutes per week in order to focus on reading and math”. And while these are undoubtedly important skill areas for students to have, standardized tests do not take into account that students need to be exposed to a diverse range of subject areas in order to be prepared for a wide range of career options, many of which are skilled jobs which do not require advanced knowledge of writing and mathematics.
Perhaps most concerning is that standardized testing is inherently discriminatory. Although proponents say that testing actually makes the education system more equal because it holds all students to the same standard, as I said earlier, the thinking that everyone should be able to perform at the same level is flawed. Standardized, timed tests put students who have learning disabilities, who speak English as a second language, or even come from low-income households at a huge disadvantage. According to a Washington Post article, as of 2014, students whose families had incomes of over $200,000 scored almost 400 points higher than students whose incomes were lower than $20,000 on the SAT, which can be used to satisfy government testing.
Standardized testing does not improve student achievement or the quality of their education, and is extremely discriminatory to a variety of demographic groups, and is therefore counterproductive to the goals that we should be striving for in our education.