Standardized Tests – Are They Good For Students?
Taking standardized tests is now just a fact of life for kids who attend school. Because kids are educated on such a huge scale, and because it is necessary to keep track of whether or not those efforts at education are effective, it is hard to avoid subjecting those students to testing. In this sense, we need testing to make sure we are not wasting our time with whichever programs we are using to educate our kids, and without it we could conceivably have a situation where a lot of kids are going to school every day and being taught by bad teachers, or by teachers who are using methods that are not effective.
The other reason that standardized testing is important is for purposes of admissions, both into higher learning institutions (like public and private colleges and universities across the country) and also into private or magnet elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. When these schools receive applications for admission from students all over the country, they need some kind of objective, standardized measure to use to compare one applicant to another.
It is not enough to just compare grades, because (for example) getting an A in one History class with one particular teacher at one particular school could be a great deal easier or harder than getting an A in another History class with another teacher at another school in a different state. Without a standardized measurement, like the SAT or LSAT, for example, admissions people would basically be guessing about how challenging a given curriculum really was.
So that covers a little bit about why we have standardized tests, but are they good for kids? Like almost any such question, this one has at least two sides to it. On the one hand, yes, standardized tests are good for kids, because they give kids a chance to demonstrate their skills and intelligence to schools they might want to attend. Without standardized testing, you might have a situation where one student in a very challenging program at one high school has worse grades than another student in much easier classes at another high school, and the first student would have no opportunity to prove himself against the second one. In this regard, it is very important for the first student that the test exists.
However, standardized tests are far from perfect. Because test design has flaws, there may be students who are intelligent and have a lot to offer, but because they just don’t ‘get’ the test, they do poorly and schools are not impressed. Beyond that, fear of poor performance on test day can lead to even worse performance from some students who would otherwise be able to perform a lot better on day-to-day tasks that do not have so much pressure and anxiety built up around them.
The bottom line is that standardized tests to play an important role in the educational process, and they are an important way for students to be able to prove their abilities, but we must bear in mind that they only reflect a certain skill set, and that there are many other skill sets that are important. As long as people understand the limitations of the tests, they can have a positive and constructive place in education.