From Our Perspective: Standardized tests are lowering standards

In the typical college classroom, students are judged on whether they know the material by using a scantron bubble sheet and a number two pencil to choose the best answer. The staff at Whim believes this method of measurement is not the best answer to help our failing schools.

Standardized tests only allow for one type of learner to succeed and do not engage students. Standardized tests force teachers to cram only the pieces of information that are going to be on the test into a semester. This causes the teacher to be unable to experiment with different ways to teach the class because they are too busy worrying about fitting in all the material they need to cover in order for the students to pass the final exam. This unfortunately results in the majority of students becoming bored over the endless PowerPoints and the monotonous drone of the teacher’s voice reciting mindless facts about the subject area.

Standardized tests provide only one way to measure a student’s ability to learn. Standardized tests do not take into consideration the student that does not do well on multiple choice, fill-in-the blank tests.

Scantron. Photo from Creative Commons.

Standardized tests only measure the student’s ability to commit to memory the specified information that will be covered on the test for a short period of time, just long enough for the student to pass the test. This leads to lowering the standards and the expectations of students. If standardized tests continue to be used as a valid measurement of learning, students will only receive an education in memorization and not in learning content needed to be successful.

Fast forward to college, where students are expected to already have knowledge for the professors to build on. When they have spent their entire time learning to the test in grade school, it causes problems.

Professors expect us to know how to read, write and at least do basic algebra and geometry. Since so many of us got through standardized tests by memorizing things, or using the old “plug and chug” method, we are dismayed when we have to actually know things.

Rage comic. Photo from Creative Commons.

The problem isn’t that students are getting less intelligent, it’s that the standardization of our education didn’t allow for growth. Sure, there are advanced classes in high school, but those are only for students who show an aptitude for the specific subject.

Because most of us weren’t challenged in public school, we have a difficult time understanding what our professors want from us. This is where it all falls apart. Professors are forced to go back to the basics that we should already know, rather than covering new, more advanced material.

The staff at Whim urges Radford University’s students to understand that their professors aren’t being rude when they expect more from their students than they’re getting. We also hope that in the future standardized tests will be a thing of the past, so that public schools can send off students that are prepared for college.