By Jensen Krosch
Standardized tests are widespread in the United States, nearly every day students are required to take an exam to measure their intelligence. Although, what is the point of standardized tests? Most tests focus on the more logical end of people’s minds, completely ruling out critical thinking, creative solutions, and other knowledge. In the real world, most problems cannot be solved with multiple choice.
When it comes to tests, a school’s value is on the line. If their students don’t do well on the tests, their funding can be reduced. In Arizona, after the pandemic, test scores determined the resources the school had access to. It was a part of the Governor’s “Results based funding” program which was a clear bias toward high-performing and already high-income schools, while the lower-performing schools would receive less money which deprived students of things such as counselors, field trips, and teachers. Things like this can hinder a student’s performance on future tests. Which, by default, would lower a school’s funding even further.
On the topic of schools, many teachers are held accountable for the results of a class’s tests. This sort of pressure can affect teachers and give them the motive to cheat on their students. Things such as changing someone’s answers, inflating test scores, and giving answers before the test. Examples like these are more common than someone would believe, in 2015 jurors in Atlanta, Ga., were convicted of altering tests.
It’s also not only the schools who feel pressured but the students too. Later into high school, most older students find themselves busy with extracurricular activities, homework, jobs, or housework. Most students who become extremely busy end up staying up late into the night. A survey done by Sonya Kulkarni and Pallvati Gorantla revealed that out of 185 students, 43% of them had up to three to five hours of work and another 14% had up to eight hours. Now pair that with a five-hour night shift at a part-time job. Then if someone were to be interested in sports or theater, on average it can add an extra two to three hours and most students won’t be home until nine or half past 10, then with other probabilities such as housework, the hours can add up very quickly. Lack of sleep creates many problems in students, especially if they are not getting enough sleep every night. According to WebMD, a big factor that comes with sleep deprivation is that it hinders people’s thinking, learning, and concentration. This can negatively affect the results of standardized tests.
While some things such as sleep can be controlled there are certain conditions that many students have that cannot be controlled. Ever since “No Child Left Behind,” standardized tests were required nationwide, these exams overlook one major factor, learning disabilities and other difficulties. ADHD is a very common disorder, as there are three million cases in the U.S. per year. Symptoms include inattentiveness such as short attention span, careless mistakes, and being easily distracted. These things can destroy a student’s chance of scoring high on tests, especially if they don’t know where to start to fix these problems.
A great example of this is a man by the name of August Lawerence. He wrote an opinion piece on the same topic. Lawrence explains how his eighth-grade oral standardized test placed him into a special ed class due to his speech impediment, even though he did exceptionally well on the written portion of the test. He states, “Because I wasn’t a “standard” student I failed the standardized test.” Born with something that was out of his control, Lawrence was placed into a class that he didn’t belong in.
Tests cannot predict someone’s future academic achievements, they can only show how well a student can memorize or cram for an exam. In theory, standardized tests have an amazing way of displaying results of who succeeds best where, but they can’t account for things truly needed for the real world.
“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.” -Michelle Obama
Jensen Krosch is a student at Spring Grove High School. She is one of 17 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 24th year.
Sandra Webb says
Well said. We are NOT all alike, nor do we all think alike. Is there a standard kind of thinking? Thanks for asking those questions.