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The Broken Truth Behind Standardized Testing

Molly Becher, Staff Writer

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“C, D, A, C, B, B….B… No, that can’t be right. Three B’s in a row, I definitely got that one wrong. Maybe I’ll just change it just so there isn’t a pattern. But what if they are trying to trick me… I’ll leave it…. C, D, A, C, B, B, B.”

Hours, months, and years are spent sitting at desks, all in preparation for a test that can, in some ways, define your entire life. The “knowledge” that we gain from reading textbooks and looking at the AP Document Based Questions from 1999 is not to help us learn, it is to make us memorize. When did learning take the passenger seat to test taking? I want to know why the sun looks yellow, or why people do the things they do. I don’t want to know how to complete 55 questions in a single hour. I want to understand the world around me, not how to fill in bubbles. But students simply do not have time for that. I’m not saying that testing is the worst thing in the world. In fact, some people excel at standardized tests. However, testing has consumed all education. There is just not enough time to learn, there is only time to memorize facts to get the highest score on the ACT and SAT. Despite the fact that colleges are beginning to put less pressure on standardized tests, students continue to spend hundreds of dollars annually on tutors and other study methods. In reality, these tests aren’t tools used to gain an understanding of your knowledge. They’re used to see who can outsmart the test; who can last the longest.

Standardized means something that has conformed. Back in the early 1900s, school was used to mold young children into the factory workers they would inevitably become. Today, conforming to a single structure is not what determines success. In fact, throughout high school, we were instructed to “do something to make yourself stand out on college applications”. Naturally, we listen to that advice and join every club and sports team possible. Then we are forced to take these standardized tests that strip away the uniqueness that we built up and replace it with uniform ways of thinking.

The saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” broadly encompasses the pro-standardized testing argument. The standardized testing system may not seem broken to the 40 year old men who get bonuses when another hundred kids pay $54 to take the SAT or ACT, but it is. It is a broken system to the students who have breakdowns the night before they test. It is a broken system to the parents who pay thousands of dollars so their kids can take a test, and then consequently hire tutors so that the next two times they take it, they can do a little better. It is a broken system to the bright young students who are wait-listed because of their sub-par testing scores. Standardized testing may not be demoralizing to everyone, but it is just bad enough that something must be done.

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The Broken Truth Behind Standardized Testing