Put the Testing to the Test


Kai Mann, Executive

At some point in every student’s life, they have taken a standardized test. Whether it was PARCC, STAR, ACT or some other variation of the task, it was important to school, district and county scores. I recently took the STAR test for my math class, which allowed me to test my strengths in the course, and allowed my teacher see my points of struggle. It’s no secret that students usually hate standardized tests, but the real question is, why? It may be the long periods of silence, and having to sit still. Or maybe the anxiety and stress that comes along with waiting for test scores. Or even, the late night study sessions needed to prepare. Luckily, I’m here to help you know more about why standardized tests are used and how pros and cons of these tests will affect you.

Many of you have probably heard about the famous studies Stanford put on a few years ago comparing Finland’s education system to the United States own. Though this study was originally done in 2012, an unbelievable amount of people still reference it. This particular experiment had its main focuses on homework, school hours and standardized tests in two very different school environments. Finland’s schools give almost no homework, the days are nearly half as long as American school days, and standardized tests have been ditched long ago. Doing this with each grade level allows students to develop creatively and flourish as an individual thinker. The article highlighting this study on Stanford’s News website notes that Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish education expert identified the biggest obstacle in the U.S. system as the same policy intended to revolutionize education, saying”If I could change one thing in policy, I would seriously rethink the role of standardized testing,” in an interview with the Stanford News Service. “No high-performing nation in the world has been successful using the policies that the United States is using.” This statement might explain why so many students hate taking PARCC or STAR tests. They have so many cons that lead directly to crushing individuality. Many of the practices that standardized tests focus on have to do with teaching students how to memorize, rather than teaching them how to think.

Though the standardized tests do seem bad now, they do also have many pros. These include promoting skills such as patience, problem solving, and self-awareness as well as giving a simple way to test teaching skills in schools and learning ability of all the students. By allowing teens and children to see their own progress and scores after putting so much hard work into passing the tests, the school promotes self-improvement and gives each student a goal to strive for. These tests prepare them for certain jobs in the future that may test their ability to complete long and tantalizing tasks. So, although the standardized tests seem boring and pointless, everything learned in school can be applied to your future.

SAT’s and ACT’s are still far down the road, but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore them. Everyday is a step towards the future. The tests may seem pointless now but they can definitely provide you with skills needed for a successful future. All students have the option to choose to take the ACT over the SAT, so choose the one best suited to the college you hope to attend. Just remember that if you’re taking any kind of test: give it your all!