The Race to End Standardized Testing

Vanessa Alvarez, Sports Editor

As many juniors and seniors can attest to, standardized testing is one of the most dreadful pieces of the college application process. To apply to a vast majority of colleges and universities in the United States, students are required to complete the SAT and/or the ACT.

In addition, students in both middle and elementary school must take various standardized tests including the ITBS and FCAT. Unfortunately, many college hopefuls perform poorly on these exams which affects admission into some schools. In some cases, the scores do not reflect student’s grades in the classroom.

College counselor Kerry Keegan believes testing is important because it measures a student’s academic ability, however “studies have shown that students coming from stronger socio-economic backgrounds tend to earn higher scores on standardized tests, so obviously standardized testing doesn’t truly level the playing field for all students.”

The U.S. just celebrated a milestone with its highest graduation rate in history, however, reports from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show a small 37% of high school seniors are prepared for college level math and reading courses. According to an article in the Detroit News, “Many teachers thought standardized tests were an unreliable and inaccurate measure of student growth.” These scores can easily put a damage to the self esteem of some students, making them feel as though they failed or that they are unsuccessful due to the scores that do not reflect classroom performance. Rather than focusing on the material presented on these exams, students are more concerned with memorizing information to perform highly.

Standardized tests are not only affecting the lives of high schoolers. Middle and elementary school students are also required to take several tests each year to track their progress in the classroom. Although they are different tests and age groups, again, the issue returns that the scores sometimes don’t reflect a child’s actual grades.

Locally, in Manatee County, a mother joined to fight against the tests after her son confronted her about struggling not only in school, but also on the tests. She told News Channel 8 that her son’s confidence and self esteem is shot because of the tests. She notes that she had the option to have her son opt out of the exam, however, she was pressured into making him take it, because officials said her son would be held back if he doesn’t take the test. School officials responded by saying once a parent opts their child out of the test, the principal calls the family to make sure they understand what they are doing. They added that the information is often misinterpreted as pressure to not opt out.

As of right now,  tests such as the ACT and SAT are mandatory for a vast majority of colleges and universities, however, there is a small list of schools who take either one of the tests.

Junior Marie Dela Cruz, who is currently in the process of taking standardized tests, believes “as long as the tests are an important part of what schools judge a student on, then I believe the tests should be required. If I had the option to opt out of both, I would, but that could hurt my chances of getting into certain schools.”

For younger children in elementary and middle school, the ability to opt out of a test is not available. In 2015, President Barack Obama supports the tests however, he stated he wanted to change the obsession over standardized testing. Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, recently revealed she too believes this obsession should because if it isn’t helping students move forward, why have them at all?
Similar to the President, one of Academy’s college counselors, Kerry Keegan, believes testing is important but it isn’t as critical as everyone assumes it is. She adds, “The good news is that over 800 schools are now test optional, so students have the  opportunity to seek out schools that place a greater emphasis on grades, coursework, and the intangibles like leadership, service and character. We are really in a win-win situation where students with strong test scores and students with lower test scores all have fantastic college options.”

Although it is not the main focus of any major officials, parents are fighting to end these tests. Deeming them as “unnecessary”, parents will not stop until these tests are eliminated, or until students have the ability to opt out.