Standardized Testing is Ruining Education

Every year, students are forced to take standardized tests, but often they do more harm than good


Illustration by Kelly Morgan

The SAT test has again darkened the halls of Grand Ledge High School. This test, and other standardized tests like it, are the markers of a failing educational system.

Kelly Morgan, Entertainment Editor

   Once a year, the pencils are sharpened, the books are studied, and an air of dread hangs over the junior class. The SAT test has again darkened the halls of Grand Ledge High School. This test, and other standardized tests like it, are the markers of a failing educational system. They are actively discriminatory, overly stressful, and a narrowing influence on the curriculum of many schools.

   For example, standardized testing does not take into account the way people learn. Many people process information in a different way, which can leave them at a disadvantage when it comes to testing.

   “I feel like standardized testing is extremely bad because it doesn’t fit to everyone’s learning abilities,” Samantha Usher, a junior at GLHS, said. “Some people are more visual learners or hands-on learners, whereas the standardized testing is just completely like you have to read this passage and you have to analyze it, and not all people are good at that.”

   Many students—myself included—have also grown increasingly tired with learning the same things year after year. Review lessons in math class, US history yet again, and another useless essay about a topic that has been learned far too many times–these tend to get old after the second or third time around. This is also a result of standardized testing. The tests themselves focus on a very narrow and specific scope of education, which causes schools to also narrow their curriculums in order to achieve better test scores. The result: a limited and machine-like repetition of the same knowledge being spoon fed to students.

   Standardized testing also is not an accurate measure of student achievement. I myself have had bad testing days, when I fumble through my classes and can only hope that I have done something right. To judge a student based on one day, as standardized testing does, is a grossly inaccurate portrayal of student success. It does not take into effect the continuous performance of the student, or their grades overall.

   In addition to all of the other negative aspects of testing, enormous pressure is placed on students to perform well on these tests. Juniors, who take the SAT and possibly the ACT, are especially pushed to study an inordinate amount to do well on their tests. This creates quite a bit of stress for students, whose lives are already stressful enough as it is, having to juggle school work, sports, and jobs.

   “As a junior I felt a lot of pressure to do well on the SAT, especially for the schools I was going for, because different schools require different SAT scores,” Usher said. “If you don’t get the SAT score, you can’t get into them, it’s just too much.”

   Instead of using scores from these tests to determine admissions, colleges can find other ways to measure the success of their students. For example, a look at average class grades could show a student’s work ethic, while a simple letter of recommendation from a teacher could shine a light on a student’s behavior and achievements.

   These harmful effects far outweigh the positives, if indeed there are any, of standardized testing. They are not a good measure of student knowledge, they limit the curriculum, and they create unnecessary stress for busy students. In order for  schools to foster a positive learning environment and give students the education they deserve, standardized tests must not be allowed to continue.