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The Penndulum

    Standardized Tests Should Not be Mandatory

    When you are bored during a standardized test this can happen by Ben Chun is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
    Ben Chun
    “When you are bored during a standardized test this can happen” by Ben Chun is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Standardized testing should not be mandatory as it does not accurately reflect the intelligence or potential success of every student who takes it.

    Despite their issues, many still think standardized testing has significant value. Pennridge High School student Adrianna DiDonato shared that she believes testing is necessary. She said, “While I don’t enjoy the tests, I think they provide structure for the classroom. Standardized tests can show teachers what the class is struggling with and help them to shift their focus towards those areas.” While this could potentially be true, a significant flaw in standardized testing is its accuracy, which is often altered by testing anxiety. Due to the emphasis placed on the tests, many students feel nervous while taking them. According to NeaToday, a poll of over 5,000 people revealed that 67% of students and parents believe there is too much emphasis on standardized testing. An example of this can be seen in how, from a young age, children are told that SATs can make or break college admissions and future success, which causes many students to experience extreme anxiety when testing. Pennridge High School psychology teacher Stephine Nash explained that when human beings begin to feel anxious, cortisol, a stress hormone, levels increase, which causes the brain to go into a sympathetic state, leading to a lack of attention to detail. This phenomenon results in inaccurate test scores, forcing students to score lower than they should. If students receive scores unrepresentative of their intelligence, then the data collected from them becomes negligible.

    Standardized tests are also biased. According to Gale in Context, numerous studies indicate that performance disparities between students in minorities and lower socioeconomic classes are likely a result of standardized tests being biased in favor of white students in higher socioeconomic classes. They function based on the misconception that each student shares the same cultural background, which is false.

    Not only do standardized tests discriminate, but they also need more inclusivity. In 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act mandated annual testing in all 50 states. These standardized tests, such as the PSSA and the SAT, focus nearly exclusively on reading and mathematics, neglecting art, social studies, physical education, and other academic subjects. Pennridge student Cathrine Stritzle says, “My intelligence falls more on the artistic side of school. I would say that I am most intelligent musically, and standardized testing does nothing to help me show that.” It is unfair to base someone’s current ability and future success on a test that does not accurately reflect their intelligence.

    While there is no perfect solution for the issues within standardized testing, the University of the People poses a potential middle ground. As aforementioned, one of the significant issues with standardized testing is the emphasis placed on it and the resulting anxiety. If tests that hold significant importance, such as the SAT, are split up and taken at different times throughout the year, the stress of taking them is mitigated. This is because when multiple opportunities exist to do well on the assigned exam, the worry of messing up the whole test is less prevalent. This would result in more accurate scores, as fewer test takers would go into the sympathetic state that Nash explained, which causes a lack of focus. This solution does not account for the lack of inclusivity or bias; however, it could be a step in the right direction.

    Sources:

    https://go.gale.com/ps/retrieve.do?resultListType=RELATED_DOCUMENT&searchType=ts&userGroupName=perk75268&inPS=true&contentSegment=&prodId=OVIC&docId=GALE|PC3010999023&it=r

    https://standardizedtests.procon.org/

    https://www.nea.org/nea-today/all-news-articles/poll-americans-want-less-standardized-testing-and-more-school-funding

    https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-policy/sat-and-act-are-less-important-you-might-think#:~:text=Currently%2C%20only%204%20percent%20of,or%20the%20ACT%20for%20admission

    https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/no-child-left-behind-an-overview/2015/04

    https://www.cato.org/testimony/has-no-child-left-behind-worked

    https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-policy/sat-and-act-are-less-important-you-might-think#:~:text=Currently%2C%20only%204%20percent%20of,or%20the%20ACT%20for%20admission

    https://theconversation.com/the-sats-new-adversity-score-is-a-poor-fix-for-a-problematic-test-117363

    https://oregoned.org/advocating-change/new-from-oea/racist-beginnings-standardized-testing#:~:text=According%20to%20Fair%20Test%2C%20on,in%20college%20enrollments%20and%20completion

    https://www.uopeople.edu/blog/alternatives-to-standardized-testing/

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    About the Contributor
    Nikki Rindone, Student Writer
    Nikki Rindone, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include volleyball, basketball, track, NHS, drawing, and spending time with her family, friends, and dogs. Nikki plans on studying kinesiology and sports medicine to become an athletic trainer.

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