OPINION | Standardized testing needs a revamp

Raquel Griffin, a freshman general studies major, from St. George, prepares for another classroom test. Brynlee Wade | Sun News Daily

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It’s time to have less stress and more success by changing the way we do standardized testing.

Sitting a bunch of students together in a silent room with a time limit and high expectations is not the equation to having successful and knowledgeable students. We are going about standardized testing in all of the wrong ways.

Considering modern day factors such as testing anxiety, socioeconomic backgrounds, disabilities and the lack of soft skill practice all need to be considered for successful and knowledgable students.

Our brains are constantly taking in new information and facts. Theoretically, it is impossible for our brains to hit full capacity. Because of this, students are expected to constantly obtain knowledge and to be able to recall it on demand.

Testing is an effective way to evaluate students, but only if the information on the test matches what the student was taught and retained.

First, testing a students’ knowledge on a subject shouldn’t be a one-time opportunity. If students are shoving a mass amount of information into their heads right before an exam, as soon as the exam is over, most of the information won’t be thought about again. Even if the student received a good score, this does not guarantee the student gained any long-term knowledge from that experience.

I am a student who usually can do well on tests. Despite my good grades, it is very rare that the information I put into the big “finals” sticks with me once the test is over.

My main goal in my classes isn’t to gain knowledge. It’s to pass the test. As I have moved farther into my education in dance and am in classes that are improvement based and less standardized, testing has turned less into a big stressful event. It has changed into more of having a place to share what I have learned and being informed on what I can do better next time with no grade altering consequences.

A singular opportunity for students to prove their knowledge is unrealistic. Determining a student and their capabilities should consider more, such as their accomplishments and work ethic. A one-size-fits-all mindset for students with different learning preferences, socioeconomic backgrounds, outside stressors, and disabilities is unrealistic. 

There is also the factor that a student may have studied and had an understanding of the material, but testing anxiety makes it difficult for these students to do well due to mind blanks.

Something I experience often is when I speak, I can think of the similar words I want to say, but the exact word I am looking for is sitting on the tip of my tongue. It is frustrating, and I can literally feel my brain hurt from trying to think of what I am trying to say.

Test anxiety can have this same effect on students.

If standardized tests can’t be eliminated, then there are some changes that need to be made to help them fit into this modern world.

Tests should not have an insufficient amount of time to finish them or any time limit at all. A student’s knowledge should be given time to be explored and thought through. Forcing them to give up misses an opportunity to measure students’ ability to find solutions or explore multiple methods of reaching the correct answer.

Standardized testing is guided to students having a narrowed curriculum, especially when considering larger standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT and AP tests. Research shows school systems in the United States cut the average time spent on social studies, creative subjects and science by more than 40%.

A student’s intelligence can’t be measured by hard skills. Soft skills such as creativity, critical thinking and problem solving give students opportunities to develop their skills, have creativity and explore self-expression. The world grows and is beautifully unique and diverse through the use of soft skills and individualism. Standardized testing simply creates duplicates of the same individuals.

Although it can be argued standardized testing is an efficient way to keep everyone on the same playing field and to decipher where overall knowledge gaps are, it is inconsiderate of the wide range of learning processes. It also disregards that the educators themselves may be the problem and not the students.

Standardized testing is outdated, biased and an inadequate way for students to show how intelligent they are. It can be a beneficial way to show student improvement but only with the consideration of modern-day factors and focus changes.