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The Bug: A student’s knowledge is not reflected by standardized testing

October 5, 2018

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While standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, and STAAR tests show a student’s growth, it does not reflect their full knowledge. According to the KLRN Frontline, the SAT was “first created to identify slow learners so that teachers could give them the attention they needed.” Now, the test is designed to examine and figure out what students’ weaknesses are. It is not rational to base the intelligence of a student on tests. Therefore, students should not have to take standardized tests because they are too stressful, biased, and most universities no longer consider these scores for admission purposes. These factors should be considered by The College Board to remove or waive some standardized tests.

The pressure that is being put on students to receive a high score on these exams is too much for them. Sometimes is it not the test itself but the fear of failing it. They are so worried that receiving a bad score will reflect that they are not smart.

Not only do students feel that the heat is on but others as well. According to analyst Elaine Cox from U.S News, “increased pressure on students has resulted in more test-taking anxiety.” The extent of how nervous some students get before taking these exams are rising to the extreme. It gets so bad that it becomes a health risk for some students. They dread having to take this exam for their own reasons, but the intensity is one of them.  Because of these mixed emotions, students fear taking the test and end up doing horribly.

Some of these children experience vomiting, loss of confidence, mental breakdowns, and other symptoms. It is unbelievable that a standardized test can mess with a student mentality so badly. They can be the brightest star in their class and receive a low score just because of their nerves. In other situations, some students are simply just bad test takers. How are students supposed to perform their best with so much worry, pressure, and fear? It is a big weight on their shoulders that does not always allow them to think to their full potential on these standardized tests.

No test should dictate a students’ knowledge gained throughout 16-17 years of getting an education. A standardized test is not worth taking if a student’s confidence will be lost or their health is not at 100 percent. These tests do not measure the intelligence so why must students go through it?

Besides that, these standardized tests are biased against race, class, and gender. Students from the lower class do not have much access to a lot of resources needed to receive a good education as the wealthy do.

People from the upper class have the money to purchase study guides, prep books, and tutors for these big exams. According to an article displayed on The Fair Test, “ACT scores are directly related to family income: the richer students’ parents are, the higher are average scores.” Rich parents tend to speak with higher vocabulary than the lower-class parents. Their children’s everyday language is not likely to be the same a student from the lower class since people in different environments speak differently. This ties in with the standardized testing because the vocabulary in these exams is highly advanced.

Not only is social class and income put into thought when it comes to being against standardized testing but race as well. If all ethnic groups were placed on the same testing battlefield, Whites would still conquer. The Fair Test mentions, “according to ACT research, when all factors are equal, such as course work, grades and family income, Whites still outscore all other groups.” How can the College Board believe this test is fair and equally challenging for all students despite who or where they come from? It does not make sense to give all these students the same test if they each come from their own background.

In addition, it is discriminatory and unfair to those who do not speak English fluently or at all. Since these tests are only given out in English, what happens to those students whose first language is Spanish, Chinese, or another language? These children should not be put in a place where they do not have the knowledge or confidence. Making them take a test in a language they do not understand is just setting them up for failure. The College Board does not put these backgrounds into consideration. They expect a high score with no excuses and that is where the problem is.

Research shows that the ACT is biased because of gender as well. It was mentioned in The Fair Test as well that “boys score slightly higher than girls across all races, despite boys’ lower grades in high school and college.” This explains how you cannot see a student’s knowledge based on testing but rather you can see it in their grades.

Considering the common nerves, most people assume that older students do not feel this way anymore, but they are the worst. High school students worry about the SAT and SAT scores the most because some universities consider these scores for admission. According to psychologist Claude Steel, “the SAT is not going to get you very far with predicting who’s going to do well in college.” This infers that these tests do not reflect the full knowledge of a student. However, most universities have come to their senses and now do a holistic review rather than just viewing these scores for acceptance. PBS writer Sarah Sheffer states “there are about 850 test-optional colleges in the U.S., and the trend is growing slowly.”

To sum it all up, holding these tests to a student’s disadvantage is unfair. The STAAR, SAT, and ACT do not reflect a person’s knowledge. Claude Steele from the Frontline mentioned his opinion on these tests and agrees that there is a problem with how the scores are used and viewed. He said, “Real school performance out there–it’s like having to select a basketball player based on how well they shoot free throws. That’s the first problem with standardized tests.” Steele is inferring that students may have high test scores like a basketball player has a good free throw percentage. However, the message he is sending is you should look at everything entirely. That a student’s grades should be viewed and considered as well, besides the standardized test scores.

Do you still believe that we should see these test scores to reflect how smart a student is? Are you willing to put students through a lot of pressure and become biased just for a test that does not show how intelligent they are?

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