Standardized Testing is Harmful

When I was in high school, I have written about two or three essays. But I have taken so many tests that I cannot even count on one hand. The late-night cramming, the adrenaline rush when the teacher said "10 minutes left," the anxious wait for the grade, and the eventual disappointment--I look back on tests with a shudder. You may say there are necessary. But research says its actually not. Standardized testing, in fact, harms than helps students by dulling creativity and shaming over small mistakes.

Since the market wants innovators rather than doers, you might think creativity is important, but standardized testing gives us obedience instead. Take the US History regents as an example. When you take the test, you will encounter a question with similar multiple choice answers; only one is absolutely right. But the other answers might be right based on your interpretation. If the test question is an essay question, then the multiple choice answers can become options that you can choose. And with whatever option you choose, you can back it up with evidence. Already you have creativity going on. But the essay question goes back to being a multiple choice question; all the options turned into answers. Choose whatever answer you think is right, you will be penalized. Just like that, your grade is toast.

Speaking of your grade getting toast, sometimes, a teacher uses standardized testing to penalize you for the simplest mistakes. Take me as an example. When my global history handed me my test, I forgot to write my name because I had too much anxiety. When I got my test back, I got a 95, but my teacher marked 5 points off for forgetting to my name on the scantron. I was devastated and hurt. In the competitive hell that was my high school, I preferred a 100 to a 95. So, getting penalized for the mistake made me want to punch myself. In other words, I filled myself with regret. And then, I started thinking about the what could have been. Had I put my name on the scantron, I would have gotten a 100 and my overall grade of 95 would have been a 96. By then, I think of hypothetical scenarios instead of the now. In other words, I ruminated and that paved the way for my breakdown in my senior year ever since.

Standardized testing doesn't work. Students associate stress with them. For that, they are even scared of them. Many schools tote testing as an indicator of college preparedness. As a college student, I have some qualms with that. When I got into college, I wrote more essays than taking tests. When my IR professor piled me with essay after essay, I found myself stressed in a late night the same way I was stressed before the night of a big exam. This time, though, I was stressed by the fact that nobody in high school ever taught me to write a single essay. Making an argument, backing it up with evidence, considering the implications of it--all of them in the span of two weeks, not in the hectic 30 minutes of your own classroom. That takes creativity. But high schools don't want creativity; they want obedience. And they do it by shaming you for the simplest mistakes.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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