ACT and Standardized Tests: Time To Go?

ACT and Standardized Tests: Time To Go?

Preston Schenk

For many Preble students, standardized tests seem rather boring and unimportant. Mocked in certain shows such as The Simpsons, many believe that standardized tests are boring and have little impact. Used primarily in determining the ability of students in certain subjects as well as to determine school funding, many critics point to standardized tests as being a relic of the past and not accurate as they seem. Others say that standardized tests are required to track the educational system and to see how great educators are doing. The question then becomes why do we have standardized tests and should they be replaced?

 

Standardized tests are rather boring to students, putting it nicely. Students believe the tests have no real impact on the education they receive and that the test itself would do little for the student’s educational future. As boring as tests may seem, tests are used to determine school funding and class placements, as well as potential college placement, such as the case of the ACT. While many may accept the fact that the tests are used to give funds and to place students into the best classes for their learning attitude/environment, many say that the tests should go away in order for funds to be distributed equally among poor scoring schools, and that students and parents should be able to pick the classes which would suit them the best. These practices are nominally in effect at high schools such as Preble, where students who seek to go into AP classes have to talk with their parents and receive a teacher recommendation for the class. Even with this system, many students believe it is too strict and some input AP classes anyway.  With these systems, it seems like the case is settled: if schools don’t use them to place students in classes, why have tests that students hate?

Proponents of the standardized test movement say that the tests are necessary to report the success of students and educators to the state to better adapt teaching methods and course rigor/information. For example- if students’ test scores in an area drop around the state, it can most likely be pinned on the classwork/information presented in the class. However, if this information would not be relayed to the state, a change in curriculum would never happen, resulting in poorer education for students. While many on the side of standardized tests admit that tests themselves are rather tedious, they see that the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Standardized tests are also used by schools to place students in correct classes, which will suit their learning style the best, which proponents say allows the students to find a better class for them. Some schools allow for students to pick harder classes while they may not have the knowledge or effort to participate actively in them. With standardized testing, the exact class that a student should take to best suite them is known, benefiting students and teachers alike. Proponents also argue that studying for standardized tests is rarely endorsed apart from bigger tests such as the ACT. This, they believe, takes away from the time students would spend on the studying on other subjects.

 

So what’s to lose?  Standardized tests provide great benefits to schools and school districts while taking limited time away from learning. However, in an ever-increasing world where individual learning has taken precedence over group learning, it seems the future of standardized testing may be bleak. The focus on the individual in schooling, although controversial, if applied to standardized testing would reduce anxiety of students and allow the students greater control over potential class options in the next year of education. These factors make the question of when, not if standardized testing will disappear seems to be the greater question, much to the dismay of pro standardized testing individuals. However, it is possible that tests will stick around- albeit optional for students.