Pro V. Con: Standardized Testing

Pro: No More Bashing On Standardized Testing

by Leah Peloff ‘18

The words “standardized testing” are a trigger for many people and almost always follow with some comment on how all minds are different and there is no standard for one’s intelligence. Although this is definitely true in some regards, it is an unfortunate oversimplification.

According to the Glossary of Education Reform, standardized testing is, “any form of test that requires all test takers to answer the same questions … which makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individuals.” Before knocking down this method of a common baseline between all individuals, think about that one English teacher who just does not like your writing. It seems that no matter how hard you try she always seems to give you the same, mediocre grade because of a preconceived notion that you’re a mediocre writer. Now imagine if this teacher were the deciding factor in whether you get into the school of your dreams. With a standardized test, there is no reader bias and no unfair disadvantages, the answers you put down directly correlate with your score.

The argument that this kind of testing does not always reflect one’s true potential since no mind is “standardized” is flawed because these tests are designed to assess the skills one will need to be successful in the next step of their education. Critical reading, writing, mathematics, and grammar are things everyone needs in college. By asking the same questions and testing the same tasks, one can more accurately see where they stand in relation to their peers and what school they may be most successful at after high school. A student’s goal shouldn’t necessarily be getting into the highest possible college offered, but finding the university that would provide one with the right resources that fit their abilities and will be the most effective in helping them succeed. True, a standardized test does not demonstrate the entirety of what a student has to offer. But taking them away as a major factor in comparing students’ abilities would be a mistake.

Imagine you are trying to decide which cross country runner is the tougher athlete. You would put them on the same course and compare their times, right? Having one of them run on a hilly, 3 mile course and the other on a flat, one mile trail would prove impossible to compare. This is the same with standardized testing. It is by no means perfect, but gives us the best chance at a fair comparison.

Con: Your Scores Do Not Equate Your Worth

by Emma Shuster ‘18

When hearing the words SAT and ACT, many adolescents begin to panic. A jumble of thoughts may enter the mind of the individual, “Not fair at all,” “I wish it was not required,” and “My scores are awful, you have no idea.” For years, teenagers have taken the SAT and ACT to earn an acceptance into one or more of their choices for a college. Preparations for these exams require dedication from the individual and often money spent on prep books, tutors, and classes. However, many teenagers still struggle to achieve a score that earns them acceptance into a school of their preference, which in fact may cause them to not apply to a particular school in the first place.

Many selective schools essentially have baseline requirements for the SAT and ACT. The University of Maryland at College Park looks for an average of 1370 on the SAT and a 30 on the ACT amongst its accepted students. Maryland receives approximately 36,000 applications every year, and has an acceptance rate of 45 percent. Even for a student who took rigorous courses throughout high school, received good grades, and was part of several extracurricular activities, a SAT score that falls below the average outline, could mean that the student will receive a rejection letter.

Also, there is the simple fact that many students are not good standardized test takers. Furthermore, tests do not necessarily predict and correlate how well these students will perform in college. According to a study performed by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, “students with strong high school grades generally performed well in college despite poor test scores.”

One’s chances of being accepted into a college should not be primarily based off how well they can perform on a test on any given day and there is more to a person than their test scores. Many students are driven, ambitious individuals who have challenged themselves throughout high schools that better prepare them for their college career. The debate of whether standardized testing should be a major component in college admissions is heating up and colleges and universities increasingly are re-examining their own-reliances of SAT or ACT scores. According to The College Solution, approximately 850 schools across the nation have now reasonably gone the test-optional route.