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Standardized Testing In The Us: Why It Does Not Work

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In the United States, standardized testing is used to measure how knowledgeable or unknowledgeable a person is in a particular subject. According to the Council of Chief State School Officers website, standardized tests are defined as “a testing instrument that is administered, scored, and interpreted in a standard manner. It may be either norm-referenced or criterion-referenced” (Council of Chief State School Officers). I believe that this method of testing is not an accurate way of measuring ones knowledge for it is biased towards certain ethic groups and creates unneeded stress for students. This style of testing is biased towards certain ethic groups and cultures because it measures all students on the same level. Different cultures have different ways of thinking or perceiving things, therefore all cultures should not be tested on the same level. Not to say that one culture should be tested on lower level or scale, but a student who was raised in America and one who was raised in France will obviously have differences such as language or social beliefs. According to my psychology textbook, “the impact of experience and cultural values can extend beyond particular items to a child’s familiarity with the entire testing situation. Tests underestimate a child’s intelligence if, for example, the child’s culture encourages children to solve problems in collaboration with others and discourages them from excelling as individuals” (Kail & Cavanaugh).

Standardized tests also create unnecessary stress for students. These tests require students to study or cram for many hours and puts them in a demanding social setting where they are forced to answer difficult questions. “Minority test takers experience anxiety, believing that if they do poorly on their test they will confirm the stereotypes about inferior intellectual performance of their minority group. As a result, a self-fulfilling prophecy begins, and the child performs at a level beneath his or her inherent abilities” (Racial Differences). Standardized tests not only stress students out, but cause anxiety towards learning and are a problem to our society.

A possible solution to this problem would be take home study questions for the student to study and answer in their own environment. The course instructor could assign certain questions that target key points in the curriculum and have students take them home to answer. This way, students could study in their own environment without the stress of a classroom where they are forced to sit down and regurgitate a load of information. The student would be able to discuss the questions in their own social setting where they are comfortable and more likely to do their best. One possible draw back of this method would be that students would more than likely be dishonest about their true knowledge on the subject and use their textbook or an outside source for the answers to the questions. This could be prevented by targeting the questions to be critical thinking rather than answers you could find in any book or internet site. The student would be able to explain the topic or answer to the topic in their own words in a way which they would understand it and could relate to it.

Another possible solution to the standardized testing dilemma is to have teachers create the tests themselves based on curriculum and different cultures represented in the class. In this solution, the instructor could personalize the test for each class to be sure that it does not test on material not taught in the course or is racially biased towards certain students. Teachers could use an online tool, such as to create tests for the students in their class. This would not only help reduce the risk of a test being biased towards a certain culture, but it would also cut down on cheating. Each set of test generated has several different versions where the questions are mixed up in a random order so that students are unable to copy off one another. This possible solution, however, would take up more of the teacher’s time and is normally not geared towards college level courses.

The final possible solution, and the best one in my opinion, would be to have oral interviews with each student to determine how much knowledge the student has acquired on the subject instead of giving them a standardized test. The instructor could sit down with each student for a ten to fifteen minute period of time and ask the student questions pertaining to the information taught in the course. Instead of filling out multiple choice questions or writing an essay, the student would engage in a test like conversation. The student would benefit from the oral evaluation for it would reduce the amount of pressure



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