Standardized Test Controversy

Standardized Test Controversy

Standardized tests, some people like them while others hate them. The question to ask is why? Why is there such controversy in regard to standardized tests? Standardized tests are believed to have originated in China during the 6th century. They then progressed to Britain in the 19th century and finally to the United States sometime around WWI (Standardized Test, p. 1). These tests test were developed as a means to measure the knowledge of certain groups on specific subjects. “Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner” (Standardized Test, p.1). Generally these tests consist of sets of simple multiple choice questions where there is only one given answer. This makes these tests very easy to grade and the results are not difficult to analyze. For this reason, standardized tests have become not only popular in classroom settings, but as a means to determine entry into various programs. For instance, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), the ACT and SAT are all tests utilized to determine how well students did at learning material. Despite their popularity there is much debate about how accurate standardized tests are and there are both pros and cons relating to the utilization of such tests.

There are many benefits of standardized testing. “The concept of a test prepared and administered to allow a universal and non-biased assessment of all students taking it sounds like the Golden Fleece of education” (The Neutralization, pg, 1). They accomplish the goal of making sure that test takers are being measured objectively on the same material. They also eliminate bias that a certain scorer can have on a test. These tests have direct answers that don’t have any leeway for judgment. Another advantage is that these tests can be repeated and generalized, which then gives them validity and reliability (Standardized Test, p. 1). These tests provide a means for measuring the individuals at the same level. Without this bias, standardized tests can be a reliable source evaluating large numbers of people who are all unique in different ways. This creates a standard for expected values that most of the population should achieve. Ultimately, standardized tests are beneficial in evaluating large groups of people without bias.

There are also many disadvantages to standardized testing. Some people believe that the tests themselves are biased towards certain student types. Also, not all of the information that is on these standardized tests is taught to students across the nation. Each school district has its own curriculum so students might not learn all the information that is required to do well on standardized tests. Teachers realize the importance of these standardized tests and how they can determine whether students get into certain colleges. So in turn, they structure there teaching around preparing these students for these tests (What’s So Bad, pg.1). When in reality, they should be trying to teach a large amount of material on all subjects. Standardized test tend to focus on math and reading and put less importance on the other subjects. (The Cons Of, pg.1) So that is telling teachers to focus more on math and science and not to try and make students “well rounded”. Along with the ability to not make them a well rounded student, the emphasis on preparing students for the real world can also be lost. Overall, there are some major disadvantages associated with standardized tests.

While there are both pros and cons connected to standardized tests, standardized tests appear to have more disadvantages than advantages. I believe that even if a few groups of students are put at a disadvantage just because of how the test is designed or administered that it is not an effective way test. I believe that too much weight is put on standardized tests. Almost all colleges require you to get a certain score on these tests to be admitted. While a student may be very smart and do extremely well in high school, but then goes and takes one of these standardized tests and just freezes up over all the pressure of the test and what it means to his/her future. That isn’t truly evaluating that student and if they should be admitted to college.

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