Standardized Testing Is Plaguing American Education

Camryn Chehreh, Staff Writer

If you are an American student, standardized testing is nothing new. We start as early as the third grade, with state tests determining our skills in language and mathematics. We grow up learning things simply for the sake of testing, only to forget those lessons the minute we hand in our papers. Standardized testing is simply a roadblock on the long path of education, training students to learn for the test rather than for educational purposes. 

Standardized testing did not start as a way to evaluate the skills of students or see what they lack. It started as a way to distinguish the wealthy and educated from those who were not (and still do, according to a CNBC study). Additionally, we’ve seen forms of standardized testing in American voting stations, designed to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote, as documented by the National Education Association. This system of testing has been plaguing Americans for close to 100 years. 

When talking about testing in modern-day schools, the student’s voice is rarely heard. I spoke to some of my peers regarding their thoughts on standardized testing, and the majority opinion was the same. “The promotion of standardized testing prioritizes memorization over genuine education”, said 10th grader Caffrey Helpa. “The idea that using the same method to compare different individuals without concern for the impact it has on mental health is counterintuitive. Seeing those around me stress over and struggle with these tests is disheartening, especially due to the impact on their future.” In addition to this, I was able to survey a group of 24 students regarding their thoughts on standardized testing. Out of that group, 18 students expressed that they thought it’s harmful, while only two found it helpful. Four students said they felt indifferent about the issue. 

It’s not just students who are against testing- teachers in Seattle have refused to administer MAP tests, and Texas legislation has claimed standardized testing is “strangling” public school students. Even some politicians are pleading with the current presidential administration to do something about it. Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, who has spoken out against standardized testing, wrote in a letter to the Secretary of Education that the country should be focusing on students “academic, and emotional-wellbeing, not arbitrary standardized testing goals.”

If students, teachers, and government officials are so against standardized testing, why do we still practice it? Testing measures “achievement against goals, not progress,” according to the American University School of Education. Good test scores can also increase the prestige and reputation of a school, and in some cases allow for more funding and are used to “incentivize” schools for good scores. 

Although some of these things may seem good, testing comes with major repercussions. Cheating has become normalized because students are afraid that they won’t pass the test. Extreme anxiety and stress are normal among students, who rely on tests like the SATs to determine their future. The mental health and wellbeing of students are being put up to the plate for the sake of school systems rewarding themselves. So, do the pros outweigh the cons? 

Standardized testing has been a common practice for nearly 100 years in America. Stemming from racist and classist beliefs, it’s not used to judge students’ entire lives and education, and benefits school systems through money and greed. Standardized testing is a plague to American students, and it’s time to take action by acknowledging its past misuses and start getting rid of it for the sake of American students.