A “Con”test for Students

“These tests… are designed to measure students’ skills and help colleges evaluate how ready students are for college-level work,” according to the College Board. However, how can a 170-question test possibly measure a student’s capability?

Colleges supposedly base their admissions decisions partly on these test scores.. A student can take the SAT at most four times during his or her high school career. According to PrepScholar, an online test prep for the SAT and ACT, the national average SAT score was 1497 out of 2400. If the average SAT score is 903 less than the highest score, it would seem logical that the “standards” of the test poorly represent the performance of students in the education system. If it doesn’t represent education as a whole, how can the SAT tests accurately indicate how enlightened a student is.

Not only the SAT, but other “standard” means of evaluating students fail to actually represent student learning. Being forced to take an assessment not only intimidates a student, it limits the student’s ability to represent themselves. Tests force students to focus on a specific topic, perhaps a topic that the student does not find suitable.

For example, tests such as the ACT and SAT only test students on English, math, and sometimes science. However, not all students want to pursue a career in mathematics or in English. So students who focus on English and math have an ever-so-slight advantage over those who have an interest in other topics.

Tests pressure students. When a teacher or society burdens a student with a test, the student immediately feels obligated to study. However, a test should be a measurement of how a student can devise a reasonable response, not how well a student can memorize theories and data the night before. The idea that the test will drastically affect a student’s future educational choices, such as choosing colleges, will encumber them.

In a different light, tests can be seen to not evaluate the students at all. A student from Central High School in Pennsylvania says that he thinks tests are a “waste of time and paper. They require all students to take it as a way to test, not us but, teachers. For example, in Philly, if a school’s average in a standardized test isn’t higher than required, most of the staff is fired and replaced.” So, it seems that instead of examining how well a student performs academically, standardized tests evaluate the capability of the teachers.

Tests are being given a high priority. Teachers and the Department of Education seem to no longer value education. In the Bronx High School of Science, in-class tests often make up 40-50 percent of a student’s grade, with an additional 15-20 percent of their grade being composed of a mid term/final examination grade. Test grades in Bronx Science can account for 70 percent of a student’s grade.

When I asked a student from Bronx Science how she felt about tests, she said, “They’re stressful and weighed too much to test a student’s ability. Not everyone is a good test taker.” Those who are more accustomed to taking tests have an advantage over those who aren’t as suited to tests.

The original purpose of schools was to provide education for students to create a “brighter” future. Schools meant enlighten students both academically and socially, not to determine which student can be the next Cam Jansen.