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The Official Student Publication of Page High School

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The Official Student Publication of Page High School

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Does Standardized Testing Improve Education?


Picture this, you’re a student walking into school on test day. You have the inevitable butterflies in your stomach fluttering around and you’re questioning whether or not you had a good enough breakfast beforehand. You head into your classroom hoping at least one of your friends is in there already so you don’t look like you’re wandering around aimlessly.  After finding your seat the nerves start to settle a bit but just in time for them to come back as soon as the proctor starts giving instructions. Then before you know it you hear the words “You may begin.”

You are suddenly taking the test that you’ve been dreading for the past week. 

Tests are aspects of school that the majority doesn’t favor. They carry stress and pressure and can often lead to anxiety and worry, but how can they benefit you and your learning? 

Tests were created to indicate student’s overall knowledge in subjects and test their ability to use their knowledge. They are meant to measure what a student has learned and to see how well they know the material. They involve questions that test the students’ limits and understanding of the information. 

There are typically two different types of tests, non-standardized, and standardized. Non-standardized are meant to determine the proficiency level of the students, provide feedback to both the student and the teacher, and to modify the curriculum to make it more appropriate to either lower or higher skill students. Non-standardized tests can also be referred to as “Classroom Tests”. They are mainly used to just monitor the progress of the students and to show what the teacher needs to either go over or focus on. However standardized tests are tests that are administered and scored in a consistent manner. For instance everyone that takes a standardized test is required to answer the same questions and all answers are graded in the same prearranged way. Things like the SAT and the ACT are examples of a standardized test. They can often be used to determine if high school students are admitted to selective colleges, according to pressbooks.pub. 


Pros of Standardized tests

Some pros of taking a standardized test are that they are scored fairly every single time. It is very unlikely that a test will be wrongly scored. They score it in such an even and consistent way that it’s very rare for there to be any mistakes. Another pro is that it creates a universal standard for education. All of the schools in the same district all take the same standardized test. This offers a more broad and more widespread date ultimately making it easier to see how the preponderance of students are doing with the material. According to sparkadmission.com, measuring students against that universal standard, makes it easier to evaluate and rank them. Another pro is that it holds both students and teachers accountable. If students are certain school districts are doing poorly or struggling to perform at their said grade level, superintendents and governments need to get involved. This results in more of a drive in the teachers to make sure their students are really grasping and comprehending what is being taught. Standardized tests also show analytical progress within the student. So not only do the tests compare students against one another but it also shows their individual improvement over the years. Lastly, standardized tests can provide inclusive opportunities and can prove that a student has mastered sufficient academic material. They can highlight a person’s performance and can level the playing field in public education. 


Cons of Standardized tests

With the pros of standardized testing, also comes cons. For example, a standardized test score does not designate college readiness. Self-motivation and resilience are important factors that are not tested. Standardized tests can put an immense amount of pressure on a student, resulting in them not fulfilling their full potential and not always doing their best. This can cause a student’s score to be lower than what they are truly capable of. Test anxiety, feelings of worry or self-doubt can interfere with your test taking performance and can make you do poorly. So with the claim that standardized tests offer fair results, it can also be argued that they don’t. People with bad test anxiety can get into their head and this can cause confusion and uncertainty in their answer. This may ensue in the student spending too much time on a question and falling behind, then resulting in them not being able to complete the test. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, “A rise and fall in cortisol is associated with a 0.4 standard deviation decrease in the test scores.” This suggests that some students’ reactions to test-taking can diminish their scores. This leads to lower levels of confidence with answering questions on future tests as well. 


Do they improve education?

Just like non-standardized tests, standardized tests identify areas of improvement and point out regions of difficulty and regions of achievement, as we’ve discussed. This allows teachers to address any gaps in their knowledge or skills and they also allow for the comparison of students across states and districts. So to bring to a final analysis, it could be argued both ways whether or not standardized tests improve education among students. Although they offer statistics and data on what kind of information needs to be focused on in school systems, they can also cause vast strain and nervousness carrying inaccurate test scores. So, really it depends on what kind of student you are but these are important actualities to take into account and consider. 

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About the Contributor
Addison Farris
Addison Farris, Co-editor
Hi! I'm Addison and i am currently a Junior at Page High School. I have been in journalism since freshman year but didn't officially start writing for the newspaper till Sophomore year. I am the current co-editor and i hope to go into journalism as a career!

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