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Standardized Testing… Take It With a Grain of Salt

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

by CLARE FLANAGAN - Why we shouldn’t be bogged down by our test scores.

The American education system is saturated with standardized tests. Starting as early as second grade and ranging all the way through college, it’s just a part of our culture at this point. Don’t believe me? Just type #PSATmemes into your favorite social media site, and you’ll soon see that almost all high schoolers participated in the fun in some way (as it technically is illegal, I feel like I’m obligated to say “oh no! Don’t do that!”). While I know that standardized tests can be important in determining scholastic success rate, areas of academic skill, college acceptance and scholarships, standardized tests can be easily misinterpreted as a measure of a person’s value and skill.

The truth is, some people just aren’t that great at test taking, no matter their values or intelligence level. Tests, especially standardized tests, are often taken in a high pressure and high stress environment, which can cause anyone to make mistakes they typically aren’t prone to making. Because of this, they run the risk of not being a true measure of our “academic intellect.” Being judged on the entirety of our academic capabilities based solely on the subjects of English Language Arts, Science and Math is also an unfair grading scale. A standardized test cannot measure the talent of a designer, the hard work of a practicing musician, the handiwork of a construction worker nor the skill it takes to read people as a psychologist or detective: all attributes belonging to many hardworking and successful individuals. Judging solely by the scores of a standardized test, many of those people might be considered “less-than” the people around them. If that doesn’t sound fair to you, it’s because it isn’t; the system is broken, and has been for a very time.

So, while standardized tests don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, if you ever feel like you performed poorly on a standardized test, or you know you did, take a deep breath and try to de-stress. Those tests are often not a fair evaluation of all of our skills, and more importantly, it’s not indicative of our value as a human beings. Some schools, such as Ball State, that are not including the scores in their admission process. Some believe post-secondary education systems are moving to this along with valuing innovation, job experiences and service projects. Many of us will move on in life to do extraordinary things that could never be measured by a number on a page. Our achievements are more than numbers on a page. We are more than numbers on a page; it’s time we start believing it.

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