Testing Techniques

State officials should re-examine, solve the issues of standardized testing


Izabella Solis

The Issue: The use of cheating lowers self-value and encourages students not to learn but lie, and even though it raises grades, it damages morals in the process.

Izabella Solis, Staff reporter

From giving students extreme pre-test jitters, being an unfair judgment on a student’s academic performance for the school year and having teachers only teach to the test, standardized testing is a big problem within the state of Texas that needs attention now.

According to a study completed by the Princeton Review and Wrigley, over 85 percent of students report that their stress and tension levels rise around exam time, leading them to make unhealthy choices, including drug and alcohol usage. Standardized testing also puts pressure on teachers, forcing them to teach to the test rather than the actual subject. A study done by the Educational Testing Services found that in a district that relied on test taking, 83 percent of students could choose the correct answer for a question written in standard format, but only 66 percent of them could answer the same question in open-ended format. If those students were taught efficiently by their teachers, then they would know that those two questions were exactly the same.

Tests only judge students’ potential based off of a score on a paper, which is not a realistic or effective way to measure student success. A study by the Brookings Institution stated that 50 percent to 80 percent of year-by-year improvements in test scores were temporary and had nothing to do with actual changes in learning.

Those in favor of standardized testing may claim that they have a positive effect on student achievement, and they do, in some cases. Standardized testing is used in the real world to ensure that professionals like physicians and lawyers have necessary knowledge, but other statistics state that potential negative outcomes outweigh positive ones. For example, according to Gerald W. Bracey, standardized tests can’t measure qualities like creativity, motivation and integrity.

Standardized testing needs to be revised because it’s raising anxiety levels for students and causing teachers to only teach to prepare for the test, rather than teaching valuable learning material. Other revisions that the district can make to its standardized tests include eliminating the guessing penalty, like on the SAT, so test-takers don’t feel pressured to answer every single question correctly. A break halfway through the test can also help to relieve tension.

Standardized testing can hurt students, but revisions to the exams would lift a weight off the shoulders of test-takers. Until those revisions take place, teachers can apply real-life problem solving skills into their lesson plans to prepare students for life beyond testing and teach procedures to alleviate stress while test-taking. With these methods, students will feel less pressured and will be more likely to get better exam scores.