Standardized tests are a reality that drives the American education system. Designed to survey the knowledge level of students in a uniform way, they are something that students are introduced to nearly as soon as they enter the classroom.
However, such testing requirements often make teachers feel forced into adjusting their curriculum so that instead of teaching concepts that are most needed, they feel compelled to focus on those specific areas that will be covered within the standardized tests.
The rigid requirements of standardized tests are often not the best way to judge a student’s comprehension of a subject, simply because so many students fall under the descriptor of being a “bad test taker”. This does not necessarily mean that a student has failed to understand the concepts which are taught, but merely that they have not mastered the complex skill of converting their knowledge into high scores on standardized tests.
However, some schools are mandated into administering the tests so as not to lose much-needed federal funding, which often is a driving factor for schools in low-income areas that are already struggling to stay afloat.
Thankfully, many schools from the elementary level all the way to college are beginning to adopt the idea that standardized test scores are far from the only way to judge a student’s knowledge about a particular subject. Many universities are choosing to favor such items as a personal statement or letters of recommendation from former teachers, instead of test scores to determine whether a student should be admitted.
However, although many feel that there are better ways to categorize student abilities than a standardized test, they are still widely used in today’s education system, and will likely remain so until major and lasting steps in education reform occur. Until then, standardized tests will be prevalent.