Standardized Tests Have No Place in Education


"Standardized Test Close-Up" by biologycorner is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Tests are not catering to what students need in the real world, and could cause potential harm.

Haley Roach, Contributor

Rocky Mountain’s freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are all preparing for standardized testing next week. Simply put, these tests are useless. Standardized tests do not benefit the education of students. Standardized tests force memorization not understanding, they cause unnecessary stress, low-self esteem, and are not designed to test the individual intelligence of each student. 


The standardized test was created with the intent to test a large group of students on their knowledge in reading, math and science. There are a few versions of the test and a large quantity is administered on the same day and time around the country. All the test does is focus on a series of patterns or formulas that students are required to memorize in order to perform well on the exam. While it may be easy to memorize a formula for an algebraic problem, what real implication does it have on a students overall performance in the real world?


Due to societal standards, there is a notion that good test scores is what demonstrates a good education. Funding and job security is determined by how well students can perform on these exams and many public officials running for office promise better test scores as a part of their campaign. This has led teachers to teaching the test rather than teaching material that is more beneficial to students in the long term. 


Because society has created a culture focused on high-performance, anything less than what is expected is deemed below average. This grading system makes students who perform poorly, even as early as elementary school, lose confidence in themselves and hurts their education in the future. Early on students are characterized as gifted, average, or below average resulting in which path they will take throughout their educational careers. 


A student who is put into the lower category may feel a disdain towards learning by feeling inferior to their peers. While a student who is put into the higher level classes may face extreme burnout, pressure by parents and anxiety surrounding their schooling in the future. 


The test is also unfair because while it may be free to take, different socioeconomic classes are put at an extreme disadvantage. Students whose families come from a lower class don’t have the resources to pay for a tutor, test-practice programs, or any reading material. This can put an additional burden on students who feel the need to perform well the first time, while other students are given the advantage of retakes if they are in a higher class. 


Furthermore, standardized tests are taken in an unnatural environment, one that is very different from the usual classroom environment. Any and all reference posters are covered up, no collaboration is allowed by students, and they involve sitting for prolonged periods of time. None of which benefit a student’s ability to perform well on the exam, or reflect the real world. No one would expect someone in an office setting, research space, or emergency situation to never consult outside sources. Fundamental problem solving skills can never be developed in this type of test. 


These tests also put an immense amount of stress on students and studies have shown that stress can alter the brain destroying brain cells in the hippocampus, the region corresponding to memory. The immense stress the tests and the culture they create cause could be making students less likely to do well in real life problem solving.


Finally, standardized tests only test three main subjects; reading, math and science. This does a disservice to students who are creative or whose passions surround the arts because the problem is, education isn’t a “one-size fits all”. Tests like the SAT and ACT cannot measure assets like creativity or innovation, they only measure how well a student can test.


While scientifically we all share the same DNA, each individual is different and so is each student. While taking a standardized test, one student is penalized for writing and thinking creatively and another student is rewarded for writing based on an outline that has been memorized to maximize their score. 


Standardized testing has taken over the way that students are educated, and many acts have already been taken towards removing them from schools around the country. However some are still reluctant. But regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, it all comes down to what best benefits students. Students taught creativity with access to a well-rounded education will be far more successful than those trapped in the rigid, stifling environment we create with tests now.