Should Students Take Standardized Tests?

Standardized testing is outdated and doesn't measure student potential.


"math on the wall" by riebschlager is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Is testing really necessary?

Janie Liddle, Contributor

Standardized tests are defined by W. James Popham, former president of the American Educational Research Association, as “any test that’s administered, scored, and interpreted in a standard, predetermined manner.”

Since the mid to late 1800s, standardized testing has been a part of the education system. Though, speculation on whether or not standardized testing is really beneficial has been on the rise, and continues to go up.

Standardized testing creates a narrow curriculum. It can cause not only teachers to teach to the test, but for most students to learn to the test. Standardized tests also have the ability to take away the chance for outside-of-the-box thinkers and innovators.

When it comes to tests like these, there is a certain standard set. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 required states to develop assessments in basic skills. If these assessments are given to the students in the school, the school will receive a certain amount of federal funding based on the results. 

In 2015, The No Child Left Behind Act was replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act. This act disposed of some of the aspects of its predecessor, but did not eliminate the standardized tests. Now, this act is called the Every Student Succeeds Act, but does every student really succeed?

Standardized testing has not improved the achievement in students. In May 2011, the National Research Council reported: “Despite using them for several decades, policymakers and educators do not yet know how to use test-based incentives to consistently generate positive effects on achievement and to improve education.” This indicates that there is no evidence test based incentive programs are working. 

After the No Child Left Behind Act, there was a significant slip in testing results of United States students on the Programme for International Students Assessment. Statistically speaking, the U.S. dropped from 18th in the world in math, to 31st! 

Not only that, but standardized tests are not a reliable measure of performance or intelligence. A 2001 study published by the Brookings Institution found that 50-80% of year-over-year test score improvements were temporary and “caused by fluctuations that had nothing to do with long-term changes in learning…”

From a high school student perspective,  not many people try on a standardized test, aside from the SAT and ACT. This explains why students who have around a 4.0 GPA may not have gotten the greatest test scores. 

In addition to that, standardized tests don’t fully measure everything that makes education meaningful.

This goes back to the earlier claim that standardized tests create a smaller curriculum, as well as creates the ability to take away creative thinkers ability to succeed.

According to late education researcher Gerald W. Bracey, PhD, qualities that standardized tests cannot measure include “creativity, critical thinking, resilience, 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.”

Students continue to take standardized tests, and who knows how long this will go on, however the debate of whether or not students should take standardized tests or not will remain.