Michelle it works. Bobbie Solley, a professor

Michelle Obama once said, “If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.” An interesting sentiment, when one considers how prevalent standardized testing is today. A survey conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools in 66 school districts found that between pre k-12 and grade 12, students took an average of 112 standardized test (Hart 12). Or take the SAT, which was completed by more than 1.7 million students from the class of 2017 (2017 Report Overview). These standardized tests are meant to measure student achievement, but overtime, more weight has been placed on them for things such as academic placements and college application. As a result, not doing well on these tests can have serious consequences.

But is this increasing emphasis on standardized testing really a good thing for students? Standardized testing shouldn’t be used in schools because it negatively impacts students, fails to measure their achievements, and discriminates against some people. The first reason why standardized testing shouldn’t be used in schools is because it’s bad for the student themselves. In theory, standardized tests are beneficial because they set clear goals for every student to strive towards and highlights areas for improvement. But in practice, that’s not always how it works. Bobbie Solley, a professor of elementary and special education at Middle Tennessee State University, states “Researchers have consistently found that an approach based on extrinsic rewards and consequences actually reduces children’s intrinsic motivation to learn . . . Because of high-stakes testing and the pressure that surrounds it, children are no longer engaged in enriching experiences for the pure joy of learning” (Solley).

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Basically, Solley is saying that tests put too much pressure on students. They are no longer encouraged to take risks and learn as a student; the most important goal becomes to score the highest on standardized tests. Solley continued, “Extrinsic motivation, in the form of rewards and consequences, has replaced learning for the sheer pleasure of learning and the internal satisfaction that comes from a job well done” (Solley).

Author and social critic, Peter Sacks, also warns “Test-driven classrooms exacerbate boredom, fear, lethargy, promoting all manner of mechanical behaviors on the part of teachers, students, and schools, and bleed school children of their natural love of learning” (qtd. in Solley). To sum up, the use of standardized tests adversely influences students by putting too much pressure on them and diminishes their passion for learning Now that we have examined the negative impacts of standardized testing on students, certainly they must be effective at providing accurate information about academic achievement if we are putting students through all of this. Not necessarily. The second reason why standardized testing shouldn’t be used in school is because it actually fails to measure student achievement. One of the reasons for using standardized tests is to determine if a student is prepared to succeed in college.

However, the results from these tests don’t always give a clear picture. In one study, William Hiss, former dean of admissions for Bates College, examined the grades and graduation rates of students at test-optional universities and compared them to those at universities which required standardized tests over several years (Sheffer). According to Hiss’ data, “There was a negligible difference in college performance between the two groups.

Only .05 percent of a GPA point set “submitters” and “non-submitters” apart, and the difference in their graduation rates was just .6 percent” (qtd. in Sheffer). In other words, standardized tests are not an accurate predictor of the success of students in college at all. Another way in which standardized tests fail to measure student achievement is that it only provides a one-dimensional look at students.

In psychometrician Daniel Koretz’s view, scores on a standardized test “usually do not provide a direct and complete measure of educational achievement.” (qtd. in Harris). These tests can’t even begin to measure attributes such as creativity, critical thinking, curiosity and so on. Attributes which all parents would want their child to possess. In sum, standardized tests on are not a good indication of success in college and only provides a superficial way to judge student achievement.Lastly, standardized testing shouldn’t be used in school because it discriminates against some students. Professor at Wake Forest University, Joseph Soares, has done research on the matter.

His research found that standardized tests like the ACTs or SATs “put low-income and minority students at significant disadvantages and have resulted in a lack of diversity at the nation’s four-year colleges” (Soares). For example, at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, “72 percent of undergraduates come from families with incomes in the top quartile of North Carolinians. Also at Chapel Hill, only 12 percent of the students come from families in the bottom half of North Carolina’s incomes” (Soares). What this really means is that there is a bias towards upper-class students on standardized tests.

It’s not difficult to see why: wealthier students have access to more resources than their less wealthy counterparts. They are able to afford extra books for studying or even tutors. All of which give an unfair advantage on a test that is supposed to judge everyone on the same basis. In addition, there’s also a correlation between student’s SES, socioeconomic status, and his or her performance on the SAT. (Aspegren) To put in another way, students who have more income are tend to score higher standardized tests.

In short, standardized testing is not an objective assessment of students as many of them are at a disadvantage. An advocate for standardized testing may argue standardized tests are necessary because they help combat grade inflation and put students on an equal playing field. However, Hiss disagrees when he writes, “The evidence of the study clearly shows that high school GPA matters. Four-year, long-term evidence of self-discipline, intellectual curiosity and hard work; that’s what matters the most” (qtd.

in Sheffer). The claim of grade inflation can be refuted because colleges not only looks at the overall GPA but also the rigor of the courses. Is the student challenging him or herself or are they only taking easy classes? In addition, standardized curriculum such as Advanced Placements and International Baccalaureate further shows a student’s dedication to learning. How the student is able to tackle these academic challenges are a much better indication of success than standardized test scores. Another counterargument against the removal of standardized testing is that standardized tests can help prepare students for college with test-taking abilities. They say tests like the SATs or ACTs prepares students for success in college. However, that’s not always the case. This argument can be refuted because Hiss’s data shows that “If high school grades are not high, good testing does not promise college success.

Students with good grades and modest testing did better in college than students with higher testing and lower high school grades” (qtd. in Sheffer). This demonstrates that just because someone scores highly on a standardized test, it is not a guarantee that they will perform well in college. This is because grade point average is something that a student has to dedicate time and effort to for 4 years. As opposed to standardized testing, which can be completed within 3 hours on an early Saturday morning. GPA is a much better way gauge student success than standardized tests.


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