Standardized testing necessary as metric for aptitude

May 14, 2018 — by Mathew Luo

Many of us are acutely aware of the limitations of standardized testing.

The tests are often long and tedious, and in some cases, they might even fail to adequately measure a student’s actual abilities if the person suffers from test anxiety or doesn’t work well under time constraints. In some cases, it seems as if scores measure not how much a student knows but rather their propensity to avoid making small mistakes.

The pressing need to receive a top score coupled with the tests’ tedious nature has created misplaced feelings of dislike and contempt toward them.

Too often, though, these these feelings are misdirected. Although these tests may be imperfect, they are valuable as a metric for colleges and others to measure student performance. The presence of a metric is also of great benefit for students as they gauge their own abilities and try to decide on career choices.

Standardized tests remedy the differences in grading policies among districts and states. Standardized test scores also eliminate the subjectiveness of students’ GPAs.

Since standardized tests are nationalized, they are the only standard gauge of true aptitude. Even with the push toward a more nationalized public school curriculum in the form of the Common Core, private schools will still be exempt from following any new standards.

Research has shown standardized testing scores to strongly correlate with college GPAs, proving that performing well on standardized tests measures academic aptitude, at least to some extent.

If national standards were abolished, then disastrous consequences, such as the biasing of college admissions processes, would follow. A metric to measure absolute performance is necessary to make well informed decisions.

Without standardized tests, policymakers would have to rely on subjective scales such as local GPA and testimonials when creating policies like the allocation of public funds.

To be sure, several valid criticisms have been levied against these standardized tests, the most notable of which is the correlation between affluence and high scores.

It seems egregious for scores to be determined by socio-economic status. Richer students can afford tutors, books and prep classes to bolster their test scores, which could be deemed unfair.

All these criticisms have merit, and yet the tests still achieve what they were set out to do — to measure a student’s aptitude in a particular subject or skill.

Furthermore, as many students have also realized, affluence is not a shortcut to academic success. Being able to afford hours of classes does not take away from the hard work a student still has to do to learn the material.

In the end, standardized tests are relatively accurate in measuring student capabilities.

Despite their flaws, standardized tests are far more a blessing than a curse.

 

 

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