Standardized Tests: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

It is that time of year when high school students have to start thinking about where they want to apply for college. In some cases, schools accept early admissions and seniors have already applied. It is also to time of year when the discussion turns back to admissions and what we do wrong and right. Depending on your beliefs, there are many answers to this question.

Inside Higher Ed has an article on the growing number of colleges dropping the SATs from their requirements (the comments are quite interesting as well). As a hater of standardized tests, having taken them from kindergarten, I love that schools are looking at alternate ways of measuring their applicants. I do not believe tests like the SAT are a validation of anything except how well you can remember math from years and years ago, how well you can sort out words in your head, and how much money you have to afford to get a tutor or take the test multiple times.

I know there are a lot of beliefs surrounding our standardized testing, but we need to start paying more attention to the issue as parents and as a profession that works with young people. Standardized testing is becoming more prevalant in K-12 across the country, as a way to measure the intelligence of our children. I have very conflicting and mixed feelings about these kinds of tests.

–Jane, hated taking them as a student

3 thoughts on “Standardized Tests: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

  • October 9, 2006 at 10:48 pm
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    I just took the GRE this past weekend. I am still confused as too how analogies, sentence completion, algebra and geometry will be indicative of my skills as a psychologist?

  • October 10, 2006 at 10:41 am
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    I know Jane and I will always disagree about this. I am in favor of standardized testing. I also happen to notice that most people who are against standardized testing are the more liberal thinkers. Standardized testing is clearly to the advantage of analytical thinkers such as myself.

    Though I am in favor of it, I strongly believe that it does not measure a person’s intellect. It is only one small test of a few skill sets that may or may not be important to their future profession. How can someone possibly “grade” someone else’s writing without bringing in their own opinions and prejudices?

    Regardless of whether or not standardized tests are a good measure of knowledge or potential, kids better get used to it. They are going to be seeing many more standardized tests for the rest of their life. From doctors, lawyers, and engineers to real estate agents, policeman, and fireman. They all have to take licensing tests. Those things are not going to go away soon. But if they do, can they go away before I have to take the GRE! 😉

  • October 14, 2006 at 8:22 am
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    I am very glad that I grew up in Canada in a time when standardized tests were non-existent. I have 3university degrees and have never taken one in my life. Canada is just now starting to implement standardized tests and I am against this movement.
    I taught middle school for 5 years in the Canadian school system in the early 1990’s and I did not have to worry about “teaching to the test”. I taught the curriculum, but there was no pressure to have the students learn only the stuff that would be on the test to make my school look better. Higher test scores in the USA are equated with better teaching and this is not always the case.
    The pressure for students to perform well on standardized tests at younger and younger ages is (to me) not a good trend in my eyes.
    I am a divergent thinker who does not do well with multiple choice as I tend to see possibility in all answers. Convergent thinkers do better on standardized tests, just as those with more money do better because of other advantages in their life that have nothing to do with intelligence.
    Canadian universities have found a myriad of ways to select candidates for their programs for decades and none of these rely on a single test score. I hope it remains that way and that more American schools follow suit.

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