Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Standarized Test-Should we have them?

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Michele Coulon


Standardized Tests- should we have them?

Standardized tests are exams designed to measure a student’s scholastic performance. These tests are a controversial issue, because some people feel the test do not show the students’ intelligence. I am one of these people. What the test may cover may not be what the students have learned in class. However, some critics feel “that standardized tests allow administrators, teachers, and parents the opportunity to view solid evidence of the students performance, which in turn could lead to curriculum changes” (Banta, p.1). So, is standardized test really the best way to test?

Custom Essays on Standarized Test-Should we have them?

No, standardized testing is not the best way to test. Unfortunately these tests do not prove how smart a person is. Standardized testing was a good idea, to test the students capabilities and to see how they compare with other districts, but teachers teach using different methods and focus on different issues. What they think is important may not be what other teachers feel is important or what the state thinks is important. So, as a student you learn more about what the teacher deems important, but are evaluated on by what the state thinks is important. Standardized tests are not a reliable way to evaluate someone’s intelligence. Intelligence comes in many forms.

Our society has many different ethnic backgrounds and variations in social classes. So, how can one test acknowledge all variables? The people who make the test would have to have in mind everyone’s socioculture theory and social learning theory. This is where people learn from their culture and from the social environment in which they grew up. These issues are a big argument among critics, who are opponents for and against standardized testing, because they say, “Standardized […] tests do not account for [the] differences in social and economic backgrounds among test-takers….” Well the simple answer to the question is that no test can accommodate the difference in social classes (Banta, p.). Upper to middle class society usually have someone to help them do their homework at home. The lower class society, unfortunately does not. My mother, who is an independent high school teacher, works with people in this situation. She has found that this is partly due to the parents lack of education. The parents, therefore, are ill-equipped to help their children with homework. They place a lower value on education. This can make a big difference and allow the cycle to continue.

Critics also argue, “… that the exams do not accurately assess the scholastic performance of female students. Females consistently earn higher grades than males in both high school and college, but their average scores on standardized tests are lower…. ” (Encarta, p.). Maybe this occurs because females are social people and don’t like to sit for long periods of time. I know I am this way. If I had a choice I would prefer to be taught what is on the test, if that is what needs to take place in order to be evaluated correctly. It would not be an accurately assessment if I have not had instruction on the subject they are testing me on.

Another argument against standardized testing is the multiple choice questions. Do they really have the right answer? A student may deliberate about this because some tests have all correct answers, but one that is the better choice. So, how can it be wrong? Which is why, “the arguments against the multiple choice question tests [should] allow an individual to give reasons for an answer they have chosen” (Banta, p.). This is a vital part of the test. People who come from different backgrounds are going to have a different explanation of why they chose that answer. Which brings us back to what the students were taught in class and how it has been assimilated.

Curriculum is said to be affected by the standardized test. Some critics say, “that teachers are going to teach what will be covered on the test and unfortunately the information not covered on the test is not taught” (Banta, p.). I know that if students have to be tested for a long period of time they get tired. In high school I was not taught all the information that would be on the test and our test scores were not up to the standards. This was not just because we were not being taught the test, but also because many students did not care about taking the test due to being told that it did not affect our grade. Therefore, students did not take the test seriously.

David Coulon is a high school student who I interviewed about his thoughts on standardized testing. He told me, “I do not feel the tests truly evaluate someone’s intelligence because some people are not good test takers and what they may be tested on will not have anything to do with the career they want to pursue.” I agree with his statement. I feel that if the student knows which career they want to pursue they should be able to take classes that only pertain to that area. I also interviewed Karen Coulon who is a high school teacher. She told me, “I feel standardized tests is one way to evaluate, but should not be used as the sole criteria. When I look at students’ test scores that is just my starting point. Then I adjust curriculum and readjust until I get the results I am looking for. I never trust standardized tests to determine ability.” These two people make good points because they give two different perspectives, a teacher and student. They both feel that test are not the best way to evaluate someone’s intelligence.

Standardized test are a good idea to test a students capabilities and to see how students perform compared to each other and other school districts, but they seem to not be testing in a way that is truly reliable. These test have many students who take them non-chalantly because it does not affect them directly. I will be a future educator and hope that we find another way besides multiple choice tests to evaluate our students. The best way to evaluate a person is in a way they feel comfortable and not bored. Their true abilities will not be displayed if they are uncomfortable and bored. This quote says my message best “teachers are being given a schizophrenic message teach one way, but your students will be tested another way”(Bizar, p.). It means that everything teachers are educating their students on is not what the state tests them on. Some of the information is, but not all. Standardized tests is one way to evaluate, but as my mother put it “ should not be the sole criteria.” We should have other forms of evaluating.

Works Cited

Banta, Tina. Should Testing be Expanded or Restricted? pgs. 1-4


Bizar, Marilyn, “Standardized Testing is Undermining the Goals of

Reform,” pgs. 1-5


Coulon, David. Personal interview. June. 00

Coulon, Karen. Personal interview. June. 00

“Standardized Testing,” Microsoft Encarta 8 Encyclopedia, C.D. Rom.

1-17 Microsoft Corporation

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