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Is standardized testing benefiting students?

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Standardized testing is one of the main causes of stress during school. Since kindergarten, students have had to go through the grueling task of taking SOLs, the SAT, ACT, and other tests-with the average being 112 mandated tests.

Whether it is the curve on the SAT, or the fact that some students may be bad test takers, these types of cumulative tests can be very controversial. 75% of respondents from a survey conducted with DRHS students believed that standardized tests are not a fair and helpful way of evaluating one’s current knowledge. Many replied that the tests measure how well a person can take a test on a specific date and others said that intelligence should not be based on how well one can read or remember formulas and facts. Despite this, nearly 25% of respondents believed that cumulative tests are accurate and reliable because everyone has the opportunity to prepare and everyone takes similar tests in the nation.

“A test should not define you. I am in high level math and a person who is good at guessing could receive the same math score. Colleges go by test scores, but that person may not be able to offer the college anything,” said senior Melanie Kwaschyn.

The curve on the SAT has also shown that standardized testing results can be influenced based on who takes the assessment on a particular day. It is widely known that students can take the SAT and get a higher score on a particular section even though they missed more questions. The curve can also change depending on the number of takers, resulting in vastly different outcomes.

“If I correctly understand the curve, the highest score for a particular test might not be a perfect score, yet they are given a perfect score. If the tests are constructed to be equally difficult, one test ideally shouldn’t be harder,” said senior Petra Hafker.

66% of surveyed students thought that standardized tests should include more short-answer questions. Although these require recalling learned information, which can be harder for some, it can reflect one’s actual knowledge because students cannot simply guess. These styles of questions can also reflect a student’s thought process better than multiple choice, giving more room for one to express their thought process and reasoning. Short-answer can also allow for more than one answer, as they are more subjective than one answer always being correct.

However, it is unrealistic to have an entire test be short-answer based because it would take an excessive amount of time to grade, but, based on responses, there should still be a section that contains this style.

“Multiple choice allows guessing to play a role, whereas with short answer you can explain as much as you know and can earn partial credit for some understanding,” replied senior Wai-Kei Luu.

Although more than 78% of respondents felt that they were either prepared for the SAT and ACT extremely well or just average, 80% still felt an above-average stress level with the amount of standardized testing.

Overall, it is clear that many students feel they are at a disadvantage with standardized testing. Some think they are unfair and rely too much on chance, while others believe that cumulative tests are still an accurate and reliable way of measuring one’s knowledge. Rather than using the SAT, ACT, and other tests to determine one’s knowledge, student’s offered that essays, rigor of curriculum, and GPA should be looked at more.

Free practice classes or tutoring between older and younger students would be helpful when preparing for the SAT and other tests. However, it will be extremely difficult to change the way standardized testing is conducted in America and, until changes are made, students will have to continue pushing through the stressful assessments.

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Is standardized testing benefiting students?