Should students have to take standardized tests?

Testing students may do more harm than good

Audrey White, Opinions Section Editor

A few universally hated words within our student body: NWEA, ISTEP, SATs…you get the picture- words relating to the infamous standardized tests. So if students are distressed by standardized testing, should they really have to participate in it?


Standardized testing is used to measure a student’s achievement within spheres of academia. Ideally, testing allows for educators to gauge whether or not a student understands what is being taught. Unfortunately, test scores are oftentimes the product of a student excelling in the art of test-taking and not the actual information.


Although, standardized testing reaps many benefits. Being able to track a student’s progress, identify areas of weakness and strength, and even encourage students to form studying habits are all products of standardized testing. However, there are downsides to testing. Students are often stressed and anxious due to testing, as are teachers. Likewise, students tend to only study the material that is required to pass the test, and not deeply absorb the information, lessening the lecture’s impact. Similarly, testing students lacks the ability to measure what a student actually knows. 


It’s difficult to disacknowledge the benefits of testing. But what if there was another way to go about standardized testing? What if there was a method where students could be tested over what they know concerning a subject instead of having an all-or-nothing approach? How might our school systems change or test scores improve? Would students be more eager to learn and engage in the classroom environment? All of these questions are worth exploring in order to observe how students, school, and the world could change. Perhaps there can be a middle ground so that students can have individual tests that will quiz them over the same material, but in alternate ways that are unique to the specific learner. This could help students to be less anxious about what is the right answer and actually apply the content in a way that is beneficial for the pupil. Additionally, having tests that are specifically catered to an individual can prevent possibilities of cheating.


However, a new set of challenges may arise with having individual tests: cost, time, and resources. Worries concerning how school districts would be able to set aside the time needed to cater these tests, and funding could add more pressure on strapped institutions.  With these concerns in mind, one must be open to creative solutions that involve little time and little spendings. Alternatives to standardized tests are littered with potentials. Such possibilities could include: game assessments, having the same tests far and few between, mastery tests that show the strengths and weaknesses of a student in a given topic, or portfolio “assessments” which is a collection of a student’s work that shows individual projects. By utilizing these unconventional methods of assessment, students may show a decrease in test-anxiety, as well as display a greater understanding and application of what is being taught.


Standardized testing is a hot topic for debate, but by experimenting with various solutions, maybe school systems can discover new ways in order to engage students in the material taught in classrooms nationwide.