Standardized Stressing


Photo via Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Students must take standardized multiple choice tests year after year in schools across the state.

Emily Tasker, Managing Editor

Slippery Rock High School—and all schools in general—should get rid of standardized testing. Standardized testing forces students into a highly stressful curriculum that is based more on memorizing equations and quotes than actually learning the subject matter.

Bring up the Keystones in front of any student and pained groaning will ensue. Public school students dread the tests that threaten their graduations and school schedules. Standardized testing is there to gauge a school’s effectiveness and how well a teaching establishment should be funded, but what happens when more than half of a class is just plain terrible at taking tests? Inability to fully grasp the concept of a mathematical function should not be grounds on which to keep students from graduating and/or being forced to do even more work at home.

Standardized tests force teachers to teach to the test instead of actually taking time and being able to help their students fully understand the subject that is being taught. Teachers end up zooming through the subjects so students can know as much as possible in time for the tests, but most students don’t actually know how to do most of the things that are on the tests. Kids just end up memorizing math formulas and the composition of a cell instead of actually understanding the subjects on which they are being tested. These tests don’t even have that much of an educational value; they’re not meant to further a child’s education, but instead are used to fund schools and determine teachers’ pay. Students aren’t even told what questions they missed so they can improve upon their skills, and test scores aren’t given out until months after the tests have been taken, sometimes not until the following school year.

According to a 2015 survey of 1,500 National Education Association (NEA) members, most teachers did not think that “One-Size-Fits-All tests” were developmentally appropriate. In addition, 77% of teachers in elementary schools and 75% of middle school teachers did not think of the tests as appropriate, while only 58% of high school teachers in the NEA believed that standardized tests were acceptable. The survey also showed that school demographics had no significant differences in how teachers viewed the tests.

There are many factors that can hinder a student’s score on a test. Anxiety skyrockets with standardized testing because there are a lot of opportunities that depend on scores to be decent, including school schedules and even graduation. Also, students may fully comprehend the material that they’re being tested on, but could be bad test takers. Sometimes, test questions are poorly-worded and can be hard to understand. Testing environments can also greatly impede a student’s focus. A completely silent cafeteria or LGI can be irritating on any day, so with the added stress of a test and the waiting for the administering of tests and materials, the stark lights and silence can be downright maddening.

Students should be able to live with less stress, and teachers should have the right to actually teach their classes with fun and creative lessons if the tests are finally eradicated. The state needs to recognize standardized tests’ heinous academic crimes once and for all, and eliminate standardized testing.

Emily Tasker
“Standardized tests stress teens out and there’s somewhat of a point to them sometimes, but not other times because you’re just stressed out and don’t know how to study for them. Some people blank out for tests even if they pay attention in class.”
—Darrah Lynch, Sophomore

Emily Tasker
“No, I don’t think it’s developmentally appropriate for students because each student has a set of different skills and these tests don’t specifically target these skills; they only target academic skills and don’t prepare students for real-life experiences”
—Alicia Pflugh, Junior

Emily Tasker
“It’s kinda yes and no. The tests raise everybody to the same standards, which is good and bad, but they also give everyone an equal chance. The tests also prepare you for college. It can be really good or really bad for students.”
—Elliot McIlwain, Junior

Emily Tasker
“I am not a big fan of high-stakes testing. Students test differently than other students and some don’t do well on high-stakes testing; I myself don’t do well. I think there are better ways to asses student achievement and progress than the #2 pencil and oval testing.“
—Mr. Fritsche, Teacher