Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is Stupid.” (Einstein). I believe Einstein was reminding us that measuring others according to one set of standards is not a true representation of their knowledge. Einstein, one of the most brilliant minds ever born failed almost every standardized test he took. In fact, the majority of academically gifted minds fail standardized tests. The ability of a student to learn is not standardized. So, why do we assess our students with a one-size fits all test? Standardized testing cannot accurately assess student’s knowledge so why waste time and money on these exams. All standardized testing should be eliminated from the education system.
Standardized testing has been administered throughout the United States for over a century. In 1900, the first SAT was created to evaluate students for college entrances. During WWI the first aptitude tests were created to be taken before entering the army. Then in 1935 the world’s first high speed computers were invented. These computers were used to grade test scores across the country. These computers changed the game of standardized testing by lowering the cost of grading. Now more schools could afford to give tests and at a more frequent rate (Origin of Everything). Today standardized testing has evolved even more with the creation of technology where tests can be given online. Standardized testing should not be evolving in fact it should be eliminated.
The intended purpose of standardized tests was to access student knowledge. Supporters of standardized testing believe these tests are reliable and accurate measures of student knowledge. They believe it’s a great way to evaluate our educators teaching ability by the use of test scores. They also believe the stress caused by these tests are good for students. However, all of these beliefs are false (website).
There are two pieces of government legislature that have created the testing legacy in the United States. The first one is the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001. NCLB completely altered the American education system. NCLB not only created a high stakes testing culture but also classified thousands of schools across the country as being underperforming. NCLB required annual testing in reading, math, and since in grades 3rd-8th and then once throughout high school. Schools were required by the act to report test scores by race, ethnicity, disability, and economic status (Sadkir ; Zittleman).
The purpose of NCLB was to level the playing field and create equality within education. However, it did the exact opposite. Schools were ranked against each other and evaluated. Poorer school districts didn’t have the resources to compete with wealthy schools. Many schools were shut down in the process. States created their own tests and decided what scores were considered passing (Sadkir & Zittleman). For example, almost every student could pass the reading test in Missouri, while in contrast only thirty seven percent pass the reading test in Oklahoma. The whole purpose of standardized testing is to assess student learning. However, there isn’t even an accurate system to evaluate test scores. We should eliminate standardized testing to bring equality into education and free up resources.
The second piece of legislation passed was Common Core. Once again, the government standardized the education system by literally providing learning standards for each subject and grade. The intended purpose of Common Core was to improve our national test scores. However higher test scores come at a cost. Common Core designs curriculum with fewer subjects. These subjects are covered at a deeper level but many other subjects that are just as important to a fully rounded education are left out (Linkon). Standardized tests should not be the focus of education the students should be the priority of focus. Therefore, the NCLB act and the Common Core standards should be eliminated to end standardized testing.
Standardized testing is overused and takes away valuable time from learning. Students today spend more time preparing and taking tests then actually learning curriculum in the classroom. A study from the council of the great city schools, found that an average student will take over a hundred mandated standardized tests between the time they start pre-k and graduate high school. The most heavily tested grade from this study is eighth graders. During the course of eighth grade students will spend on average about 25 hours of the school year just on test taking. Even pre-k students were reported to have been taking up to 4 standardized tests a year (Layton). This study only analyzed time spent taking the tests. The study did not include the total time spent just preparing for these exams. If standardized testing was eliminated so much time could be available for actual learning. Ask any teacher what they need more of and they would say time.
The number of required tests is substantially high in the United States as compared to other countries who only require one test. For example, Finland only has one mandated standardized test and yet they score substantially higher on national tests than the United States. From the most recent PISA test in 2015, the United states ranked the following out of seventy-one countries. In math the United States ranked 38th. In science the United States ranked 24th (Layton). These test scores are very unimpressive to a country like the United States who values being the best. So, we would infer that requiring more standardized testing would result in higher test scores. However, it is proven to not be the case. Standardized testing should be eliminated because no matter how many tests are issued it does not access student knowledge.
Standardized testing creates ineffective educators. A teacher’s job security relies very heavily on their students test results. If a class scores below what is expected teachers can be terminated. This puts a lot of pressure on the teachers which leads to “teaching to the test”. Teaching to the test means teachers only teach test related material. Teachers today spend most their classroom time preparing students for the tests or giving the tests to their students instead of actually teaching. Any material that may better a student’s knowledge but isn’t relevant to the test is left out. Math, reading, and science are heavily focused on. However, subjects such as social studies, art, and psychical education are left out. Students deserve to learn more than what’s going to be on the test. As educators we are taught to differentiate our teaching but we are forced to standardized our tests. If teachers didn’t have the pressure of standardized test results evaluating their effectiveness they could teach more freely and effetely. By eliminating standardized testing, we can create more effective teachers. (cite)
Standardized testing is psychology and physically harmful to students and teachers because of stress. There are students who will preform well under stress but there are also those who crack under the pressure. This creates an unlevel playing field which would make the results inaccurate. In a national study, nearly seven in ten teachers reported feeling test stress (Hoyt). The high stakes culture of testing has even led some students to abuse drugs to enhance performance. Students may vomit, lose control of there bowels, or even be depressed. The worst case of stress caused by standardized tests is suicides.
The structure of the standardized tests is even flawed and subject to mistakes. However, one small mistake in the test can lead to huge disastrous results. There are hundreds of stories piling up of the effects of mistakes made by the overwhelmed testing companies. A student in Massachusetts found an alternative way to solve a math problem causing the scores of almost 500 students to be pushed over the passing mark. In New York 9,000 students were assigned to summer school because of a test error. Standardized tests are even subject to weather when in 2006 rain fell on SAT answer sheets, affecting the scores of nearly 4,000 students. In fact, it’s recorded that in a three-year period fifty major mistakes were made that effected twenty states. We can not rely on a system that is severely flawed to evaluate something as important as education and student knowledge. (cite)
Standardized testing even effects school funding. The government rewards schools with higher test scores more money. This often keeps underdeveloped schools stuck in a poverty cycle. These schools don’t have the money for resources to improve their test scores because government funding is not readily available to them. Schools who receive low test scores over a five-year period can even be shut down.
Standardized testing is discriminatory. The tests are only available in the English language. This means students whose first language isn’t English have to take an examine that they might not fully comprehend. Tests even require personal information such as race, ethnicity, and economic back ground. These characteristics of a person are illegal to use against someone when hiring for a job. So why would it be okay to use this information against students test scores.
Economically standardized tests are unsound. The same exact tests are issued to all students no matter what their social economic status is. Students from underfunded public schools, who lack the resources to succeed, are expected to generate the same scores as students in private schools who have all the resources they could possibly need. This is highly unfair to disadvantaged poorer students. Students don’t receive equal education and therefore shouldn’t be expected to produce equal test scores. Two out of three low income students in Georgia failed the state’s mandated standardized test. However not a single student from the wealthier counties failed (cite). Wealthy students grow up with advantages of having books and technology at home. However poorer students usually only have access to books and technology if their schools have those resources. Students across the country come from all different unique backgrounds and shouldn’t be conformed to the same standards as a standardized test forces them to.
The greatest major problem with standardized testing is that they are administered in multiple choice form. Multiple choice questions are subjective and biased. Test creators claim standardized tests are objective because when it comes to the scoring of these tests it all done by a machine with no human judgment effecting the scores. However, machines are not the ones who create the tests. Humans choose what questions should be on the test and how to phrase them. These components of the test making is what makes multiple choice questions biased. Biased questions create an unequal playing field in standardized tests. Some students will be benefitted while others will be harmed which is not fair. (cite).
As educators we want our students to be critical thinkers. Multiple choice questions don’t require any critical thinking skills at all. In fact, the answer is already in front of the students they just have to pick the correct one. I’ve even heard standardized tests labeled as multiple guess tests. This is definitely not the attitude we want our students developing for tests. We want students to know the answer because they have mastered the content. Every teacher’s goal should be for their students to retain the knowledge they are taught and be able to apply it. Standardized testing has no way of differentiating between what content the students actually know and the correct answers students got right from bubbling a random letter.
Even throughout college there are heavily extensive standardized tests. I recently took an exam called the Missouri General Education Assessment (MoGEA). There is a lot of pressure riding on this exam because I must reach the passing scores to graduate from Crowder College. I must also meet the passing scores for the four-year universities I want to transfer to. So, we can already see the pressure and stress standardized tests create. The MoGEA exam was five hours long that only covered the subjects of math, reading, writing, and science. We can already see proof of the excessiveness of standardized tests within this one exam. Not only did it take up a lot of time that could have been utilized studying for my college courses. It also showed that subjects such as social studies, music, and health are left out. Standardized tests are even expensive with the price tag on this one being almost hundred dollars. The money spent on this test could have been used to further my education through the purchase of textbooks.
My best scores on the MoGEA was the math section. This came as quite a shock to me because math has always been my worst subject in school. However, then I remembered I didn’t actually fully comprehend what the test questions were asking me or knew how to solve the problems. So, I used process of elimination. Since the test was administered in multiple choice format I was able to plug in answer options into the problem and seeing if they fit. This technique did provide me with the correct answer. However, it didn’t show an actual assessment of my content knowledge since I didn’t just solve the problem’s the way the test makers intended. The sole purpose of this test was to evaluate general knowledge. However great test takers like myself can cheat the system making standardized tests a very unreliable source for testing knowledge learned.
Thousands of protests from across the country have rose up to eliminate standardized testing in our schools. One protest took place at a middle school in New York city. The students were preparing for the mandated state math test. The principal requested that all teachers spend fifteen minutes of their class time to show students how to answer test question. Regardless of the subject the educator was teaching. When a teacher protested the principal didn’t back down. However, his strategy failed and only twenty-five percent of these students met the passing scores. (Crowder)
Many more cases just like the New York City protest have been led. One case involved seventy percent of students at Scarsdale skipped the exam to protest. In Baltimore juniors and seniors walked out their classrooms and into the cities school headquarters to protest standardized testing that they claimed was institutional racism. In Massachusetts, students who would have been denied graduation because of their test scores received diplomas anyway from local school boards across the state (Crowder)
There has even been an organization formed to stop standardized testing in our schools. The organization is called The National Resolution on High Stakes Testing. This organization calls on our governments representatives to eliminate testing in our schools. The National Resolution on High Stakes Testing has thousands of followers and endorsers Cite) They have a passion to reach their objective and hopefully in the years to come they will succeed.
Standardized testing should be eliminated from the educational system because standardized tests do more harm than good. The sole purpose for standardized testing is to measure students’ knowledge. However standardized tests simply cannot do that. Instead, standardized tests create ineffective teachers. The tests put dangerous amounts of stress on our teachers and students. Standardized testing is even being protested across the country by educators and students alike. If we eliminated standardized testing from our schools real learning could blossom. Schools, teachers, and students would be free from the pressures of tests scores. Subjects such as social studies, art, and music could get more emphasis in the curriculum. The most important thing that would happen if standardized testing was eliminated would be that our students would actually learn material instead of being taught how to score well on tests.

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