Observations: Standardized test scores do not reflect students’ abilities


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Standardized tests do not measure a student’s intellect and skills, according to researchers.

Aryanna Rodriguez, Staff Writer

Standardized testing is something that is very common especially for high school students. Famous standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are important timed tests that students take as juniors and seniors. The test scores for standardized tests are argued to be very important because they determine whether one is prepared for college or not.

Also, standardized tests are believed to be important for students to score well in because there are people that believe they determine a students’ intelligence and abilities. However, many students argue that standardized tests do not measure their intelligence let alone their abilities for many reasons.

I do not believe that standardized tests are something that measures a student’s capabilities and skills. Also, I do not believe it is something that should be used to measure a students’ potential for college. What I believe that what measures a student’s intellect and skills are their high school GPA and grades.

The SAT was first administered to high school students in 1926 while the ACT was first administered in the year 1959. These two standardized tests are the nation’s most widely used admissions tests in college and universities. They were said to have been created to test students’ knowledge on subjects necessary for college success.

The sole purpose of the ACT and SAT is not only to test students on their college readiness but to be used for college admission decisions. They are required in scholarship applications and are looked at by private Ivy League universities like Baylor. To this day, they are an important part of a high school student’s life especially if they are planning or wanting to go to a good college.

Through the years the pressure has grown on students to try and get the best score they can on this test because of its importance in their future and career. In addition, arguments have grown as to why these standardized tests do not measure a students knowledge and skills for college.

As stated in an analysis in the Pro Con headlines standardized testing is said to cause severe stress in younger students, according to ProCon.org. There are many students who are very smart but are not at their best when they have to take a test. Some students even go as far as breaking down at the thought of having to complete and pass a test like the ACT or SAT. As mentioned in a study on the Pro Con website, according to researcher Gregory J. Cizek illustrating how testing … produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, makes young children vomit, or cry, or both.

These tests cause many students to become stressed because it is a test that is looked at when applying for college. In addition, when taking standardized tests students are timed. These two factors not only impact a student’s performance but a student’s motivation in school.

Standardized tests stress most students and discourage many. If students do not get good grades on these tests it can affect their future and even their career. When students are applying for colleges most do not look at high school grades or GPA. Instead, most look at SAT and ACT scores for admissions.

I believe that for colleges to only look at a student’s test scores is unfair because as said in previous comments the test causes many students to become unfocused. There are many factors that contribute to a student becoming unfocused like the timing and pressure.

Colleges and universities look only at students test scores because standardized tests only “measure” students’ academic knowledge. I believe that instead, they should look at what really shows a student’s intellect and skills like high school grades and GPA.

According to the Pro Con headlines analysis standardized tests measure only a small portion of what makes education meaningful.”

— ProCon.org

According to the Pro Con headlines analysis, standardized tests measure only a small portion of what makes education meaningful. Standardized tests do not show what students are good at or a student’s potential for college. These tests are said to determine only a student’s knowledge in reading, writing, math, and science.

As revealed in the Pro Con headlines study, education researcher Gerald W. Bracey, Ph.D., qualifies that standardized tests cannot measure creativity, critical thinking, resilience, reliability, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, civic-mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty, integrity.

There are so many other things than just core subjects that show a students’ potential is for college. In addition to these tests not showing a student’s college abilities, standardized tests have begun to affect the way some teachers teach.

According to an analysis in the Pro Con website, “teaching to the test” is replacing good teaching practices with “drill n’ kill” rote learning. Many teachers all around have gotten comfortable with teaching students to remember only the important stuff for standardized tests. Their teaching has been changed and affected because of all these tests.  A 5-year University of Maryland study completed in 2007 found “the pressure teachers were feeling to ‘teach to the test'” since NCLB was leading to “declines in teaching higher-order thinking, in the amount of time spent on complex assignments, and in the actual amount of high cognitive content in the curriculum.”

There are many factors and studies that prove why standardized tests do not measure a student’s intellect and skills. These tests not only stress many students but have even begun to affect teachers. It is not fair for universities and colleges to only look at a student’s ACT or SAT scores. Students grades and GPA is what colleges should look at when students are applying for college. These are things that show a student’s knowledge and abilities for college in a more effective way.