The nightmare of standardized testing


The Mirror reporter

Albert Einstein once said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” There are many students, including me, who can relate to that fish. So, why are we being judged on our ability to take a test?

In the past, standardized testing may have been the ideal way to judge a person’s intelligence. However, the world has progressed and needs more people who think creatively, innovatively, and critically.

Originally, IQ tests were invented to predict academic performance and help people who were underperforming, gain more assistance.

According to the Meyers AP Psychology book, after about a decade, education boards revised IQ tests to measure a student’s intelligence level. This led to the creation of the Stanford-Binet scale that would classify and label students based solely on their ability to perform well on a single test.

Educators are so focused on teaching children how to take tests that they don’t teach students how to think for themselves.

Standardized tests focus exclusively on common core classes, ignoring creativity and individuality.

These tests do not allow students to express their own views or ideas. Instead, students are required to follow strict steps, allowing for no creativity or individuality.

Don’t get me wrong, the common core classes are important but no more than art or music. Each student has different strengths, needs, gifts, and dreams. Standardized tests don’t account for those extraordinary skills or talents that students possess.

Think of it this way, if a student wanted to major in music, why would they need to know how to prove a right triangle.

Education boards often argue that the main point of standardized tests is to help teachers advance a student’s skills and understandings. However, usually, the test makers don’t have prior knowledge of classroom teaching.

They believe testing the knowledge is not as important as locating the appropriate information to help a student succeed.

This mindset has led to the neglect of students who do not reach the typical average of standardized testing. This results in low self-esteem for the students who are considered below average.

Another negative factor is standardized tests are the same for every student, but not all students have the same abilities or opportunities. Some students deal with test anxiety which hinders their ability to complete the tests, even if they know the material being tested. Other learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and ADHD, can make taking the standardized test very difficult.

Research has also shown that school districts in poorer communities, especially those of color, have fewer qualified teachers. In addition, these districts have inadequate books, laboratories, and libraries, but are expected to perform at the same intelligence level as districts with far more financial and educational resources.

The American University has established alternative options to better standardized testing such as portfolio-based assessments and game-based assessments.

Portfolio-based assessments give students the ability to select the topic that interests them and then present their findings. This method tracks a student’s effort and improvement over a longer period of time, resulting in a more accurate picture of their overall educational performance.

With advances in technology, game-based assessments are a more modern way to go. The games would measure teamwork, stamina, and creativity without the need to interrupt a student’s learning.

Adults always say your teenage years are the best years of your life. Yet, how can we enjoy them when our whole education has been turned into a stressful marathon of superficial thinking and filling in the bubbles?

When are educators going to realize not everyone is standard? We all have different strengths and that’s what makes us special.