The Problem of Standardised Testing

Do standardised tests really prove effective in a student’s learning; are tests beginning to become just another burden for the student body; and is testing just becoming a rush for students and people alike to cram information into their heads just to get a passing grade?

The+Problem+of+Standardised+Testing

Kennedy Bailey, Reporter

Standardised testing has for a long time been used to measure a students performance and capability to withhold knowledge. This brings up the issue of whether or not said standardised tests can even hold a candle to the actual students capabilities or comprehension.

Do standardised tests really prove effective in a student’s learning; are tests beginning to become just another burden for the student body; and is testing just becoming a rush for students and people alike to cram information into their heads just to get a passing grade? This is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately by administrators and parents in order to ensure the future of their children and students is a successful one. 

While standardized testing may work for teachers and principles, do they really prove accurate and effective for the student body and their potential? This question brings to light the struggles that students often go through to achieve an A+.

Diving further into the subject, in a article written by Bryan Nixon, an associate of the well-known Whitby school located in Connecticut, states that ¨while it’s easy to assume that students who score high in math are good at processing information and reasoning abstractly, that’s not always the case,¨ later going on to say that researchers have seen that high standardized scores have little correlation with memory, attention and processing speed, meaning that this form of testing may not be the best option in properly gauging a students ability to learn and be taught.

Another speculation suggests that most standardised tests are proving to be more than a burden then a benefit. A recent study conducted by the NBER ( National Bureau of Economic Research) suggests that students had 15 percent more cortisol in their systems, cortisol is a hormone associated with stress, in their homeroom period before a standardized test than on days with no high-stakes testing.

Students who showed the largest variations in cortisol between testing and non-testing weeks tended to perform worse on tests than expected given their classwork and performance on non-high-stakes tests, among other measures. Cortisol spikes weren’t the only culprit; some students’ cortisol dropped on testing days, which was also associated with lower performance. Looking at this information, stress caused by testing has a significant impact on many students’ abilities to test and test well resulting in poor grades and anxiety. So, are these forms of testing becoming more of a burden to the children of our world than a means to help? 

While Standardised testing does have many inconveniences, they are also not completely ineffective. An article written by Aaron Churchill, who is the Ohio research director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute states that standardised exams are designed to be objective measures. They assess students based on a similar set of questions, are given under nearly identical testing conditions, and are graded by a machine or blind reviewer.

They are intended to provide an accurate, unfiltered measure of what a student knows.Teacher grading can be subjective in other ways, including favoritism towards certain students, and it can find its basis in non-achievement factors like classroom behavior, participation, or attendance. This means that in a classroom, teachers would be able to pick favorites and might interfere with their score whereas if they had an unbiased proctor or a machine grading the tests, they would have a much more rounded and accurate answer. 

A logical answer to the standardised testing problem could be providing students with a portfolio or game-based assignment and are more likely to have a positive attitude towards their classes resulting in them having to  use different learning strategies when portfolio or game- based assessments are implemented.

The assessments also mean that a student’s progress, effort and improvement are all tracked and measured over a longer period of time, allowing for a more accurate picture of overall performance. And a portfolio based assessment gives a student the opportunity to focus on a topic that interests them, research and discuss their work, and then present it.

A game-based assignment would allow students to be assessed while playing games to  measure teamwork, stamina and creativity, and allow teachers to get a more complete picture of the solving and learning process. And students don’t need to interrupt their learning to be tested, when participating in game based assessments.If we address this problem, test anxiety, low scores and underfunded schools could well be a thing of the past, as more educators realize the potential of these alternate testing methods and focus on what teaching is really about.