A student practicing for a standardized physics exam
Examining students' ability to answer physics questions correctly on a multiple-choice test, researchers found that men had a 5% advantage over women. Furthermore, a correlation was found between the student's year in high school and their performance on the standardized test. Seniors were nearly twice as likely as freshmen to answer a question correctly. (Source: Pixabay)

Standardized tests can be a controversial topic. Critics often complain that they do not accurately measure students' abilities and knowledge.

But supporters claim they are a good and fair way to measure how well a student has learned the material. So let's discuss what they are and their pros and cons.

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What Are Standardized Tests?

Two or more agencies or institutions usually create standardized tests to determine a student's competency in a particular subject.

Examples of standardized tests are the SAT, GRE, GED, LSAT, MCAT, ACT, and Praxis.

Critics see standardized tests as biased because of the subjects tested and the type of questions asked.

Supporters, however, maintain that tests, such as the SAT and ACT, provide an equal opportunity for students with different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds to attend college.

What Is The Purpose Of Standardized Testing?

Standardized testing has many purposes. Some of these are:

  • To see how students are progressing
  • To find the strengths and weaknesses of students
  • To see if a student is "college-ready"
  • To see how well a school has prepared its students

Standardized testing can help compare different schools and students as well.

As many states often change the public school system curriculum, standardized tests can tell if students are on par with their peers.

Often people forget that if one school's curriculum does not align with the standardized test, it will not get the same results as other schools. 

These tests are also used to see how well the school is educating students. Many people believe that these tests create an equal playing field for all students.

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Why Is Standardized Testing Good?

Standardized testing has been one of the most significant educational issues in the United States for decades.

Many people have conflicting opinions about whether standardized testing is helpful or harmful. Some students find standardized tests exhilarating, while others are nervous wrecks before even walking into the exam room.

Parents, teachers, politicians, and education professionals have all taken aside on this topic.

However, there are several reasons why standardized testing is suitable for students and classrooms around the country.

1. Provides A Common Measure Of Achievement For All Students

One of the significant benefits of standardized tests is that it provides a standard measure of achievement for all students.

With the rise in Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM), a more objective type of measurement, standardized testing allows students to be compared with each other more accurately.

Standardized tests have been implemented in the classroom to remove some of the subjectivity with grading.

2. Allows Educators To Pinpoint Student Weaknesses And Strengths

The idea of having a standard measure for students seems simple; it allows educators to pinpoint student weaknesses and strengths based on the area being tested.

This helps teachers differentiate their teaching strategies to help students achieve success.

They provide teachers with information about what concepts students understand at their level and which ones they don't; this helps the teacher plan future lessons accordingly.

This also allows for an educational system based on meritocracy, where high-performers can move faster through the material while weaker students get additional help in areas they struggle.

Standardized tests also allow educators to understand how well programs are working in schools across the country.

Unfortunately, before standardized tests became popular, many school officials did not clearly understand which areas needed improvement.

In addition, standardized tests give parents a better idea of how well the educators perform.

Any time new information comes out about an education system, there will always be some people who stand by it and some who denounce it entirely based on personal bias.

3. Offers A Way To Compare Educational Systems Across Countries

Standardized tests such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) allow educators, parents, and policymakers to compare education systems worldwide.

When students in different countries are required to take the same test, it becomes possible to see which country's education system excels and which one needs improvement.

Standardized tests allow everyone in the world to step away from biased opinions that stem from people who simply do not like change or feel threatened by new ideas.

One of the main issues with these exams is that most countries do not participate in them; however, this data can be compared within one country's results over time.

For example, TIMSS assessed students' math performance every four years from 1995 – 2011; this allowed us to see how U.S. students were performing over time.

It also gave insight into which areas we need improvement is based on our national standards.

Instead of judging these tests based on opinion, examiners use a standard frame of reference to give scores fairly.

A Teacher preparing students for a standardized test
For many students worldwide, taking an external standardized test is part of their general education. Depending on your curriculum, these tests are usually specific to your country only and can be taken at the end of primary or high school. (Source: Pixabay)

4. Helps Identify Areas Where Teachers Need Additional Training Or Resources

Standardized tests provide teachers with the opportunity to identify areas where teachers need additional training or resources to teach effectively.

This is beneficial for both students and educators because it gives each teacher an idea of what their students need and what resources will be necessary for them to flourish.

It is also important to note that standardized testing has been proven to help teachers identify areas where additional help and training are needed.

Because of this, it allows schools to receive or maintain accreditation.

Schools that provide quality education for their children deserve the chance to continue doing so by maintaining accreditation.

5. Students Who Take Standardized Exams Have An Equal Chance Of Success

Standardized tests give students an equal chance of success, regardless of socioeconomic status.

This is a massive part of the national education system because it allows students from lower socioeconomic status to have a fair shot at success.

Because standardized tests are the same for everyone, they put all students on equal footing, which allows them to receive an equal opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

This means that teachers will work with students who struggle in certain areas right away, rather than waiting until the end of the school year or term to address those issues.

6. Provides A Clear And Concise Measure Of What Students Know

Without standardized testing, it would be impossible for teachers to know what they need to teach until a few weeks into a new course.

Standardized testing provides an incredible amount of insight for educators and parents alike, putting every child on the same playing field as far as academics go.

Standardized tests help parents understand what their children are learning in school and how well they are mastering those skills.

Parents who have concerns about their children's education will be able to address those issues as soon as they arise. This can help them assess their child's progress.

This way, parents can collaborate with teachers and develop different ways to excel within the classroom setting.

7. Schools Are Held Accountable For Educating Children

Without standardized testing, there would be no way of comparing the student's progress from state to state or even district to district.

Schools across the United States would not be held accountable for educating children, and all of their hard work could be overlooked by low scores if there isn't a  standard means of measuring success.

Why Is Standardized Testing Bad For Students?

A student taking the Standardized Aptitude Test (SAT)
A standardized aptitude test, or SAT, is a multiple-choice exam that measures verbal and mathematical skills. SAT scores offer colleges and universities a standardized way to compare students' academic abilities and achievements. (Source: Pixabay)

Standardized testing harms students because it puts pressure on them to do better than their peers. This can cause some students to get anxious and nervous.

In some cases, students do not perform their best because they are worried about how their peers are doing or can't deal with the aftermath of poor performance.

Others argue that standardized tests are not accurate college success indicators because tests cannot measure intangible qualities necessary for intellectual development.

While standardized tests are designed to capture some aspects of achievement, they fail to assess more complex skills like creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

Further studies suggest that high scores on standardized exams are correlated with socioeconomic class rather than academic aptitude.

This shows that wealthier students tend to excel academically due to having educational advantages at home. However, standardized tests do not consider this factor.

Although colleges and universities rely heavily on such testing, there is much evidence to suggest that applicants' test scores provide only a limited insight into their academic potential.

To make matters worse, many institutions emphasize test performance rather than intellectual engagement to predict success in college.

Students who score well on standardized exams often receive preferential treatment over other equally qualified applicants.

As a result, they are assumed to succeed academically without additional help compared to those students who perform poorly.

Reap The Benefits Of Standardized Testing!

Standardized tests enable the comparison of students' abilities nationally and across the globe.

In addition, they show educators what each student knows and does not know to design lessons accordingly and hold schools accountable for providing a quality education for all students.

In the end, standardized testing has its pros and cons.

It can be a good thing for some, but it is only another obstacle they must overcome for others.

Do you feel that standardized tests are blocking your path to attending your dream college?

If so, then take classes with Superprof instructors and observe a drastic improvement in your test scores.

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