Learning is Longer Than a Standardized Test


Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Emily Kaplan, Staff Writer

I start my day with elective or crew, the calm before the storm. Then AP history information is thrown into my brain. Next is Algebra II, a regents class. And then a few more hours of classes that prepare me for an AP test or a regent (minus physical education gym and music). Then, there’s after school activities, where I don’t get home until late, and then hours of homework and studying. Sleep, repeat. Unfathomable amounts of stress are shoved into my being every day. From AP exams to regents, students never get a break. And most of the time, standardized testing is just memorizing information that one forgets the minute he or she finishes the test. This, therefore, provides little to no critical thinking and takes all the creativity out of learning. 

Tenth graders at WESS are taking 2-3 AP tests, 3 regents, the PSAT’s, and possibly the SAT IIs. This is an extreme amount of work that is constantly looming over our heads, providing an unnecessary amount of stress. But it’s not just WESS that has standardized testing. Schools all around the country have students with standardized tests piled upon. New York state is the only state in the country that has regents examinations, making it viewed as relatively unneeded, unless you decide to go to a college in New York. While other states have their equivalent to the Regents, like the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, regents are the most drawn-out and numerous. 

Upon interviewing several WESS students, the census is overwhelmingly that the regents are an unnecessary stressor. 

While Mia Blattmachr understands why they were created, she thinks they are, “messed up..” and that “schools should have their own testing because it’s less busy work and more of what we learned in the school year.” Essentially, she believes having tests more directed towards what is specifically taught in our class would be less busy work and could potentially enhance our learning. 

Marcus Hopper has a similar point of view, saying that, “they are unreliable. Some kids can get a 95 average in their subjects of study but get a lower grade on a standardized test. It doesn’t show how well you learned, it shows how well you can take a test.” 

You could be an expert on a certain subject, but that doesn’t matter if you aren’t a good test taker. When colleges are looking at your standardized testing scores, they aren’t seeing a true reflection of your understanding of the subject. 

Travis Lankford, 9th grade Earth Science and AP bio teacher, described them as necessary with, “the current state of the world…” but, “if the SAT, ACT and GRE’s weren’t a thing, then they wouldn’t be necessary. But we definitely test way too much in the U.S.” 

Although the standardized tests we are taking now will prepare us for standardized tests in college and graduate school, they still have the same issues as the tests we take today. Amanda Beck, the AP World History teacher, had a similar point of view and described them as necessary because almost everything people want to pursue in the future such as driving, being a lawyer, and being a teacher requires taking a standardized test. But we aren’t born with standardized minds, so we have to completely adjust our preferred way of learning to succeed in standardized tests. 

An anonymous source has a different point of view on the subject, saying, “I think that standardized testing is a very good way to evaluate teachers and to make sure everyone across the state is getting the same understanding of learning.” If everyone is failing the standardized tests, that probably means the teacher isn’t doing a very good job. With the data from the test results, administrators can assess how the teacher and students are doing, which is an important tool. But this doesn’t take away the fact that standardized tests aren’t an accurate representation of learning. 

Additionally, there is even evidence that countries without an excessive amount of standardized testing still do well academically. Finland only has one standardized test at the end of their senior year. And on the test, the students still ranked second in science, third in reading, and sixth in math on an international ranking. (Insider) This shows that standardized testing isn’t what makes one academically successful, it’s learning in a low-stakes environment. 

Learning should be fun, something you look forward to and are interested in! But standardized testing takes all the fun and creativity out of learning; it makes it about memorizing facts. And this doesn’t help you retain the information for when you need it in the future. Evidently, there are a few pros to standardized testing, it takes away from one’s interest in the subject, and makes it something to dread, which subtracts a valuable learning experience from the test. 

From my past experiences and other students and teachers perspectives, I have concluded that standardized testing is important for the experience, but not for the actual subject learning itself. So I have come to the conclusion that standardized testing does more harm than good.