We all know the agony of standardized testing and the unnecessary stress that comes with it. Because the state requires it, you would think the test must help more than it harms, right? Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s the case.

Standardized testing should not be required because it creates unnecessary stress, radically limits teachers’ creativity by forcing them to teach to the test, and creates a limited scope of learning and success. 

Students feel pressured when it comes to performing well on tests, which goes hand-in-hand with the effect scores have on a student’s self-confidence, leading to a student developing a negative outlook on their abilities and for school. During the school year, especially during testing seasons, the stress level of students and teachers alike is unfortunately high. Stress has a negative impact on how much you sleep, exercise and eat; more than one-third of teens report fatigue or feeling tired, and nearly one-quarter of teens report skipping meals due to stress. 31 percent of teens report feeling overwhelmed and depressed as a result of stress, which standardized testing fuels.

In many tested classes, such as mathematics, English and history, teachers may end up teaching to the test rather than giving students an understanding of the subject. This creates an atmosphere that lacks creativity and limits students’ learning potential. Teaching to the test causes students to learn to memorize information instead of developing critical thinking skills. One of the earliest critics of standardized testing in the United States was W. James Popham, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, expressed his concern with the fact that educators were using practice tests that were similar to the questions on major tests, and these questions were so similar that it was tough to even tell which was which. It’s far better for a student to truly know and understand the material given than simply memorizing the information that is needed to pass a test.

Standardized tests also create a limited extent of learning and success. These tests only measure specific areas such as reading, writing, and math. They don’t provide a full picture of skills needed in life, such as creativity, motivation and the ability to work with others.Standardized tests limit student learning because they focus solely on what they need to know, ignoring other attributes that are essential to student success. Research shows that students can excel academically but if they lack skills such as curiosity, conscientiousness, perseverance, and sociability, then they have a lower chance at success.

Those who support standardized testing may think we need to continue using them as a basis of comparison. However, while the United States uses tests to prove that students are well educated, Finland, one of the top performers on international tests, goes in the opposite direction. In fact, Finland does not utilize standardized testing at all. The few tests they take are all low stakes tests, which isn’t nearly as big of a deal if they do poorly on them. This takes away many of the flaws with standardized testing, leading to Finnish students scoring higher internationally on education than the United States.

In summary, standardized testing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the state should look into revamping it to help improve student mental states, classroom effectiveness, and education altogether.

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