Standardized Testing

Standardized Testing

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Standardized Testing


The truth is, white students continuously outperform black or Hispanic students in terms of proficiency test scores in every subject. For years, people have been trying to change this. Some blame the tests as being unfair and discriminatory, and seek to have them abolished. Perhaps the fault doesn’t lie in the tests and the discrepancy in scores lies elsewhere in the public education system. What the opponents of standardized testing need to understand is that this type of assessment is essential in having a public school system.

The government implements standards for the student of the public school system to achieve by a certain grade level. Standardized tests are the most fair and effective way of measuring student achievement level. These tests are administered to everyone, regardless of sex, race or ethnicity. Just because white students typically perform better than minority students doesn’t mean that the testing is biased. Standardized testing is too important and too deeply entrenched in the public education system to deem unfair and have abolished.

The tests that are being administered to students are used to determine the child’s proficiency in subjects such as mathematics and language arts - the building blocks of learning. This is to insure that all students are performing at or above their expected level. If a child is falling behind the rest of their class in these core subjects, these tests are a sure indicator of this. The student can then be looked after to insure that they progress along with the rest of their class. If not, then they can be held behind to insure that they gain adequate skills to perform at their required level of knowledge before proceeding to the next.

It is important to “Leave no child behind” because inadequate preparation can be devastating for future education. If a student is not retaining this required knowledge, then the teachers must be aware, to insure the student a proper education. Students who cannot read or write should not be graduating from high school. Herman Badillo, chairman at the City University of New York, states firmly “the university should not have to be in the business of teaching basic reading, writing and English” (Blaming).

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College and University admissions use the ACT’s or SAT’s as the single, most reliable way to compare all applicants. Statistics show that these college entrance exams are highly accurate predictors of college performance. These tests can fairly accurately predict which levels students would be most comfortable and prepared for upon entry into college for subject areas such as English and Math, as well. Not only are they good indicators of placement, but also to see which fields a student shows more skill in for proper academic advisement and further career opportunities. Thus making the student’s educational experiences more profitable.

Standardized testing is implemented to insure that all students are assessed equally. Every student is given the same test, without regard to sex or ethnic background. If needed, alternative tests are available to accommodate students of special needs. There are separate tests for students in learning disabled programs and for children where English is a second language. Great attention is put into making the tests fair. Making one standard test is the best way to assess a large amount of students equally. Standardized testing is a way to insure all children a chance for further education regardless of race or class. It is these tests that provide an opportunity to break the socioeconomic boundaries; yet, opponents of testing claim that these tests are racially discriminatory.

Test scores show that there is a division in performance between socioeconomic classes. Typically, upper class students score higher on standardized tests than lower class students. The people who construct these tests do a lot of research and go to great measures to insure that these test are as unbiased as possible. It is common that students in urban schools do not receive the same quality of education as students attending upper class suburban schools. Teachers in suburban schools have higher salaries and smaller classes, which translates into motivated teachers and more effective classes than in urban schools. Perhaps this is the cause between the difference in test scores between children of different socioeconomic classes, not the tests themselves.

So, while opposition of standardized testing blame the tests for racial and social discrimination maybe they should look to the root of the problem. The truth is, students who are taught adequately will perform adequately when given these standardized tests; whereas, students who receive a substandard education are more likely to perform poorly on these tests. These tests are implemented to insure equal assessment for all students. With provisions there for those who require it, how can these tests be discriminatory if they are administered on an indiscriminate basis.

Works Cited:

“Blaming the SATs.” The Wall Street Journal 10 June 1999: A26.

Transforming the Federal Role in Education. The White House. 17 Nov. 2002 <http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/education/>.

United States. Bureau of the Census. Statistical Abstract of the United States. 121st ed. Washington: GPO. 2001
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