Standardized testing provides alternative outlook on qualifications

 Focusing their attention, a GBS ACT prep class learns test-taking strategies. These classes enable students to perform better on the ACT, providing a more complete picture of their academic abilities.

Rachel Nwia

Focusing their attention, a GBS ACT prep class learns test-taking strategies. These classes enable students to perform better on the ACT, providing a more complete picture of their academic abilities.

Dana Sim, columnist

It’s an abomination that is whispered with pain and fear throughout the nation. From midnight scares to morning breakdowns, it’s a monstrosity.

It’s called standardized testing.

Advanced Placement exams, Terranova, ACT, SAT and so many more.

But I’m here to tell you that standardized testing is not all bad. Yes, I know. It’s stressful, hard, unforgiving and annoying, but there is more of a benefit to these exams than harm.

First of all, let’s imagine a world without them. In terms of academic measurement, the only tool useable would be regular grades. From low F’s to high A’s, a letter would measure every student.

For some, that would be amazing! What if you have a super lenient teacher that gives you an A just for showing up to class? Then, woo-hoo!

But let’s imagine a kid who hates his teacher, and his teacher hates him. It would be so much harder for him to land a B than a D. He may be academically accomplished and clever, but because of one bad teacher, the kid goes from an excellent student to a failure.

Is that really fair?

Standardized testing allows students to avoid such a situation. It’s a chance for kids who don’t excel in participation and in-class work to demonstrate their academic strength and integrity. One shy kid could be failing an English class for their lack of participation but will ace the English section of the ACT. For some people, a quiet test is a better show of intelligence than a large group project.

Secondly, without standardized testing, how exactly are we to know the levels of advancement in a topic? An honors class at South might equate to a regular class at Stevenson. With standardized testing, we can at least normalize the standards.

To you, that might not seem as important, but imagine you head off to college geared with AP classes but not the exam. Colleges see you have taken an AP class and allow you to waive that Chemistry entrance class and go straight to Advanced Chemistry 2. But you show up and find out you’re incredibly underprepared for such a class.

AP exams would prevent such disasters. They are a way to determine if you’re ready for a certain college class, not to bypass them.

Lastly, standardized testing provides clarity. Without a doubt, one topic can have thousands of different subjects, questions and answers, and a teacher must decide what to fit in. While a teacher is knowledgeable, he or she may not know what exactly to include or exclude in their course.

AP tests at least provides some sense of conformity. In other words, I’m not learning something that will never apply to my life. At the least, I’m gaining a skill set that will apply to my future major or career. This kind of standardized testing streamlines learning to what a student needs.

However, standardized testing has its faults. For one, it’s not a true measurement of a person’s intelligence. Different people have different aptitudes, and the ACT and SAT fail to test that. Many claim standardized testing caters to only one kind of student: the ones with photographic memories and excellent writing skills. In short, the ones who can take a test well.

But going back to my first point, without standardized testing, we would be judged solely by our teachers, not by our testing performance. For students who lack the participating aspect yet possess the testing perspective, they benefit from standardized testing.

Currently, colleges and workplaces look at both aspects: a student’s testing results and their GPA. Different people benefit from different forms of intelligence.

As such, a standardized test actually does measure the intelligence of a student, but only one type of student. Grades, extracurriculars and recommendations can speak for the other types of students. Having both aspects is crucial so that both parties can benefit.

So yes, standardized testing may not be fun, but that’s just because we never experienced a world without them.