Standardized Tests: Are They Needed?


Cassie Holmwood

I am sure you have all thought about college recently and wondered if you will get into your dream school. One thing that may stress you out the most are standardized tests. Theses tests have built up a reputation for themselves as being one of the major deciding factors for college acceptance. Some people say standardized tests measure our true knowledge. But do they really? Standardized tests are not beneficial for students as they do not measure student achievement, there is a gap in between economic classes that contributes to unfair test results, and test results show signs of shallow learning. I have researched this topic extensively, and I have taken multiple standardized tests including the ACT. Standardized tests should no longer be administered.
First, it does not truly measure student achievement. In the article “Standardized Tests do not Effectively Measure Student Achievement”, the author explains how student attributes are ignored in standardized tests. The article states, “they fail to measure such important attributes as creativity and critical thinking skills.” High school students acquire many skills over the years. We all have attributes that make us excel in different areas such as the arts, math, English, and others. Standardized tests do not show colleges our skills that we have acquired over the years. Standardized tests do not show our interests or areas we excel in that are not brought to light on the tests. Standardized tests do not show colleges what we are truly capable of; especially limiting to students who are successful outside of school
Second, wealthier people have a higher chance of getting a higher score. In the article “Standardized Testing and Its Victims”, the author argues that privileged students are given the upper hand. The author states, “when poorer schools do manage to scrape together the money to buy these materials, it’s often at the expense of books and other educational resources that the really need.” I am fortunate enough to have an ACT and SAT tutor. Since I have a tutor, I am given the upper hand on these tests because I know the different skills to use and I have acquired new knowledge to use on these tests. Lower income families and schools do not have enough money to do that, which causes the kids to not show the potential they truly have. According to the New York Times, families with an income of around $200,000 get a score of 560-580 in each section while families with an income of $20,000 get scores of 430-450 in each section.
Third, standardized test results are positively correlated with a shallow approach to learning. Some people see these tests as a game because of the different strategies and problem solving techniques that are needed to decipher what answer is right and wrong. Students who take standardized tests only need these strategies in order to be successful on this test. In the article “Standardized Tests do not Effectively Measure Student Achievement”, the author states, “standardized tests inadvertently create incentives for students to become superficial thinkers—to seek the quick, easy, and obvious answer.” When students are preparing for these tests, they are learning strategies to quickly find the right answers, not using the knowledge they have gained over the years. Why are we using standardized tests as a large deciding factor into college acceptance when these tests do not challenge the knowledge we have gained in high school?
Contrastingly, you may think colleges need standardized tests in order to see if you should be admitted or not, but actually there are many schools that are test optional (such as NYU) that look at more than your SAT and ACT grades to decide whether or not to accept you. Not having standardized tests can also benefit colleges because they will be able to fill their classrooms with people who excel in class and in their extracurricular activities, rather than those who did well on a test.
If we decide to stop creating these tests, all students will receive a better education due to more money being spent on textbooks, study programs, and more in-depth learning. A call to action can be to refuse to take theses tests and to promote test optional schools. For these reasons, standardized testing should no longer be used as a means of judging students for college acceptance and preparedness.