The Negatives of Standardized Testing Essay Example

While many people know that standardized testing can be stressful, some do not understand why that is. Standardized test scores are often associated with important outcomes in life, such as graduation and getting into college. This causes students to feel an immense amount of pressure to succeed, which ultimately stresses them out and affects their performance. (‘’Effects of Standardized Testing on Students & Teachers: Key Benefits & Challenges’’). Standardized testing may also be especially stressful for particular types of students. Certain student populations are more vulnerable to test anxiety, such as students with disabilities and attention deficits (Bierer). Since these students’ brains work differently than most, they are at a disadvantage. Standardized tests are the same for everyone, so those who learn and demonstrate academic proficiency differently are not taken into account (‘’Effects of Standardized Testing on Students & Teachers: Key Benefits & Challenges). Ultimately, there are many reasons why students are feeling stressed from standardized testing, which explains why so many students experience test anxiety firsthand.

Stress from standardized testing does not only affect high school students, but students of all ages. Test anxiety is widely believed to first begin in elementary school, become even more prevalent in high school, and continue into college, graduate school, etc. (Bierer). In the current day and age, students are forced to feel test stress earlier in life than ever before. Students used to prepare for the ACT and SAT the summer before and throughout their junior year. Lisa Sohmer, director of college counseling, says that nowadays most ACT and SAT prep classes are being encouraged for 9th grade students, causing the pressure to prepare for testing to be greater than ever (Leigh). This pressure is becoming so intense that an astounding number of students are experiencing test-related stress. A recent study showed that 61% of students experience some sort of test anxiety in high school and 26% of students experience test anxiety on a regular basis (Bierer). While this test anxiety can sometimes be minimal, at other times it can be detrimental.

Test anxiety for students is sometimes not seen as important as it really is. This type of stress can change many parts of students lives. ‘’A cursory review of the academic literature and national news sources on the impact of standardized testing revealed a plethora of anecdotal cases of students experiencing illness, anxiety, and heightened levels of stress all attributed to the administration of these examinations’’ (Mulvenon, et al 37). It has been proven that these tests can have detrimental effects on students and teenagers have shared their personal experiences. Sarah Rodeo stated that test preparation for the SAT took over her life, leaving her so stressed that she sought therapy (Leigh). Students like Sarah often feel so much anxiety from standardized tests that they miss out on so many opportunities as a young adult. High school senior, Sheila Khan, says her best friend had a similar experience in which she gave up swimming and hanging out with her friends to prepare for the SAT (Leigh). Overall, standardized testing puts an abnormal amount of stress and pressure on students and can have long-lasting effects on their mental health.

While standardized testing does often help provide a measurement of a student’s intelligence, many teachers believe that these tests accurately measure students’ abilities. When surveyed, only 11% of teachers said province-wide standardized tests are an accurate way to measure a student’s academic ability (Ian Urquhart Toronto Star). It is argued that standardizes testing does not give an accurate representation of a student’s intelligence because of the types of questions that are asked. Robert Marzaro pointed out at a countywide staff development meeting that a lot of state testing is fundamentally objective testing that focuses mainly on recalling information. (‘’Teacher Dilemmas in a Time of Standards and Testing’’ 746). Teachers and many other professionals believe there are different ways to measure students’ abilities. Authentic experiences in the classroom develop intellectual skills and habits that are necessary to be successful in college – even if not measured by standardized tests (‘’Teacher Dilemmas in a Time of Standards and Testing’’ 748). However, since teachers cannot base a student’s intelligence off interactions in the classroom, they must still teach to prepare for standardized testing.

When teachers have to prepare their students for standardized testing, they may have to teach differently than they would hope to. Teachers can often feel pressured to ‘’teach to the test’’ rather than provide a broad curriculum – this is due to the need to meet specific testing standards (‘’Effects of Standardized Testing on Students & Teachers: Key Benefits & Challenges’’). Teachers usually have exciting activities planned for their students but often have to sacrifice them. It is hard for teachers to provide students opportunities to critically think when they have to adhere to state-mandated curriculum (‘’Teacher Dilemmas in a Time of Standards and Testing’’ 745). Therefore, teachers feel an immense amount of pressure from the state to teach a certain way.

Not only do teachers experience pressure from the state, but also from their school and administrators. Standardized test scores are assumed to have a correlation with teaching, which can often be unfair to teachers (‘’Effects of Standardized Testing on Students & Teachers: Key Benefits & Challenges’’). Many teachers do not agree with this association and think it is unjust. When surveyed, only 7% of teachers thought that standardized tests should be used when evaluating the performance of individual teachers (Ian Urquhart Toronto Star). Schools and administrators can greatly influence teachers’ anxiety based on how much standardized testing scores impact a teacher’s reputation. Many teachers often feel an immense amount of pressure from the school to improve their standardized test scores (‘’Effects of Standardized Testing on Students & Teachers: Key Benefits & Challenges’’). Ultimately, teachers feel just as much pressure and anxiety about standardized testing as students.


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