Do you remember the jitters you felt right before taking your SAT? Or the knot you felt in your stomach while having to fill out those endless little bubbles on a scan-tron sheet? Although sometimes standardized testing can relieve a weight off our shoulders by providing us with the answers, it can also be just as stress-inducing and unproductive.
According to an article by Greg Fish of Business Week, one of the repercussions that come from standardized testing is the lack of knowledge gained from taking the test. In some instances, teachers may just teach “for the test.” Have you ever taken a multiple choice quiz in high school that was based directly on a study guide, and then after completing the test you immediately forgot the information? This would be an example of ineffective teaching that yields no benefit for the student.
In my high school, we had to make AYP (annual yearly progression) in order to continue to receive funding for our school, which is already in desperate need of money. This put just as much pressure on the faculty as the students, and most of my teachers taught strictly for the test, not so the students gained actual knowledge. We ended up barely making AYP yet the goal was still met and we received funding. But was it all worth it in the end?
Although some may excel, not every student can perform well on a standardized test. One of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein sums this idea up: “everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Basically he’s saying that we all possess an inherent talent or level of expertise, thus you cannot use the same criteria to judge everyone. Standardized testing basically gives the same test to a body of students who all have different abilities and levels of intellect. How can this possibly portray an accurate picture of our progress?
Some people are taking strides towards abolishing standardized testing. A handful of universities across the United States do not have a grading system; they have the faculty provide a written assessment for each of their students. Some think this system would foster a campus full of sloths that have no motivation, but this does the opposite. The students show a true desire to learn for the pleasure of it, and not just to gain higher grades.
Although this probably won’t happen e in the near-future, I feel that the cons for standardized testing outweigh the pros, and hopefully it will be abolished and replaced by more accurate ways of evaluating students. Until we figure out a new system and a different way to provide funding to schools without using standardized tests, this cycle will continue. It induces huge levels of stress upon the students and teachers, and we are not truly learning or showing our potential by filling out bubbles on a sheet of paper.
Kristin Fenchak is a second year student majoring in English. She can be reached at KF763925@wcupa.edu.