What do standardized exams really prove?

By: Taren Vaughan

As the school year winds down, students become excited at the mere thought of having a break from the books. Many of them have already planned out summer trips with family and friends. And some are taking full advantage of their vacation from school by doing absolutely nothing at all. But before they begin their summer festivities, students are faced with the most challenging tests of the school year: the End-Of-Grade tests. When these tests were first implemented, there was not much emphasis placed on them. These tests were used as a way to see how far a person progressed throughout the course of a school year. Now they have become the determining factors as to whether or not a child moves on to the next grade. Do standardized tests really reflect how knowledgeable a student is?

I remember back when I was in elementary school when End-Of-Grade tests were introduced to us. Of course, our teachers always encouraged us to do our best on the tests. But at that particular time, EOG scores did not count against you so no real pressure was placed on students. Now the whole “just do your best” mentality has changed. Standardized tests have a major impact on a student going to the next grade and what kind of classes that the student will take the following school year. Because so much emphasis is centered on these tests, students feel a heightened sense of pressure to do well on them. They can become so overwhelmed that they lose sleep, don’t eat for days and become emotional wrecks. Having a younger brother that is in middle school, I see firsthand how kids are affected by these tests. So if these standardized exams cause so much drama, why are students required to take them?

Well we all know the real reason behind standardized testing. Parents do want to know if their children learned what they needed to from their teachers during the school year. But the truth is that tests like theses are used to weed people out. And unfortunately for minority students, they are the ones that fall into that category.

Educators and other school board members should really take a moment to see how standardized testing affects their students. Are these exams really helping the students learn? Or are they adding unnecessary pressure on our youth?

Let’s face it. Studying for endless amounts of hours will not always result in stellar test scores. Some people are just not good test takers. As unbelievable as it may sound, there are straight A students who bomb standardized exams. It doesn’t mean that they are not capable of doing the work. It just means that they have not mastered how to take these tests. And trust me; there is a method behind how to score high on these tests.

No one is saying that standardized exams are completely useless. That would be a very unfair assessment. They do serve their purpose in the realm of education. As they do hold an importance in the world of academics, one of those purposes is not to traumatize students. And it should not be the deal breaker when it comes to whether or not a student is able to move on to the next grade level. Every aspect of that child’s scholastic resume should be examined. No one test should overshadow a year’s worth of good grades. It just doesn’t seem feasible. Because these tests are not going to be done away with anytime soon, we must learn to handle them the best way we know how. Study the books and hire the tutors to help your child get that score they are looking for. But always keep in mind that one test does not determine how successful you will be nor does it determine how capable you are of learning.

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