Standardized tests are not an effective method to determine a student's academic success. Standardized tests simplify the learning process to multiple choice answers and discourage students to think outside of the box. Students, especially those of a young age deal with a great amount of stress from test taking because they become nervous and overwhelmed with not only the testing process but the studying beforehand. Instead of enjoying school they are losing sight of the most important part of education: learning. Students are indeed learning which answers are "correct" or "incorrect" by multiple choice. Yet, isn't it most important that students are learning to understand why these answers are correct or incorrect? Don't we want our children to question and understand the information they are being taught as well as the world around them? Is that not the purpose of education in the first place? Consider the troubles these students are encountering when dealing with standardized tests and how this affects the learning process.
While standardized testing has long been criticized in all sorts of manners, but the fact of the matter remains that standardized testing is one of the only objective, unbiased methods of comparing college applicants. Standardized testing has no biases because there is no interpretation of correct and incorrect, what is correct is correct and what is not is incorrect. In other types of assessment there is room for error. One scorer can be more favorable than another and give higher scores. The odds of admission are then skewed towards the students who's assessments were scored by aforementioned scorer, and it is purely by luck rather than by skill or hard work. Critics claim that standardized tests are harmful to the educational process. In practice, this does not seem to be true. Countries like Finland, Korea, and Germany consistently place higher than the US in OECD Educational rankings, yet are more highly focused on standardized testing than the US. Rising powers like China and India also focus greatly on standardized testing. In fact a single important standardized test determines your college in India. Look where their educational models have taken them. Clearly the US is not teaching to the test well enough. Even with the largest educational budget in the world, the US ranks 33rd out of developed nations in English reading, our own language! Standardized testing has been unjustly vilified in America.
Just as an aside though it has no bearing on the debate, I am a high school student.
While I do understand the tactics of standardized testing I can hardly agree that it is a justifiable determination of a students academic achievement. Perhaps the fact that the US has rated lower than that of other countries in our competency to test well has been largely attributed by the fact that students are less engaged because they are less excited to learn. If you give a student a specific date, equation, or formula they will copy it into their notebook and use it to study for a test. In this process I would say they are in effect removing the actual knowledge of these said dates, equations, or formulas and remembering them solely for the fact that they may be tested on them at a later date. In this regard I do believe students are becoming detached from education and henceforth scoring lower on exams. If I might add, Finland does indeed use tests for student competency but there is one large difference between their form of a test and ours. Students in Finland are encouraged to learn actively and apply the information they learn to situations in real life. This I believe is a more effective tool for growth and development then racing against the clock, filling in bubbles with a no.2 pencil and in turn learning that questioning why something is "Correct" is invalid.
While an understanding of subject matter is necessary, subjective testing of the matter is often unfair and can make students weary of the subject altogether. I speak from personal experience. Standardized admissions testing has also been criticized very often. Its critics love to quote Einstein "Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, then it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." This quote, I believe is misused. Let us extend the metaphor in the quote. Imagine the people judging the fish need someone to climb trees and pick bananas. No matter how good at swimming the fish is, he is of no use to them. Similarly, when colleges use standardized tests to filter their pool of applicants, some students claim that they have different strengths. That they are artistic, or musically talented. This is a poor excuse since more often than not the college they are applying to needs students strong in academics. For these reasons standardized testing is an near ideal tool for separating the students among a pool of applicants.