Opinion: Standardized testing is overrated


Image Courtesy Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Nicole Tinius, Editor-in-Chief

As the temptations of summer creep closer to the end of the school year, one final obstacle stands in the way of letting loose until fall: standardized testing, specifically those included in the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. 

The widely held belief that standardized testing is an accurate measure of intelligence is one that I’ve always felt needed to be debunked. Even though the tests are scaled to generate a better fit for each year’s participants, the actual scaling of the tests doesn’t remove any confounding variables that might change the outcome of the scores, such as just simply being a bad test taker. 

The hundreds of years of standardized testing has prompted for questioning as to whether there are any actual pros or student benefits besides being ranked. 

Looking at the past of these pesky tests, their origin comes from it’s boom in 2002.

These standardized tests were first recorded in the 1800s, but the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2002 led to a massive increase in usage, when annual testing was mandated in all fifty states. 

Since then, the United States’ ranking in core subjects such as math, science and reading have all dropped from the early 2000s to 2015, according to Britannica’s Pros and Cons for standardized testing. 

While many of the benefits show that a prominent ‘pro’ for these tests is for teacher evaluation, the actual benefits for the students show to be few and far between. 

Ultimately, standardized testing has developed a new meaning for high school students: hours of studying and stress that lasts for weeks, and maybe even months. 

Countless “hacks” and  tips to improve scores that don’t even have to do with test subjects are ways students can “fake”, or allude to a higher level of intelligence than what is realistic. 

This is not representing a student’s intelligence, it’s representing how well they can hack, crack or take a test. 

I firmly believe that–while there might be few good reasons for standardized testing– that to the student, it means nothing more than stress and anxiety. 

Even though the termination of these tests might never happen, it’s important to emphasize that scores do not define intelligence or opportunity in the world– even for those whose academic integrity is presented through a number.