Standardized testing increasing worldwide with questionable side effects


Standardized testing has been increasing at schools across the country for years.

However, in the past couple of years, the tests have intensified, including questions with self written answers, as opposed to traditional multiple choice questions.

In Fairfax County, students take their first SOL (Virginia Standards of Learning) exam during their third grade year.

“”The reason standardized testing is so hard is because even if you know all of the material and understand the topic, you need to analyze the question and be able to go through the correct thinking process in order to get the correct answer,”” sophomore Amy Han said.

In many countries worldwide, standardized testing is inevitable and has a great effect on the future of students.

Some examples include the three hour SAT and ACT in The United States, the 9 hour Gaokao exam in China, and the two hour PISA exams in over five dozen countries worldwide.

The Gaokao exam is a 9 hour college entry exam in China, offered once a year.

The exam determines admission into every Chinese university. About 3 out of 5 students meet the qualifications to pass the test.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment)  exam is administered every three years, testing 15 year olds in core subjects, and using the results to evaluate education systems worldwide.

The PISA exam was last administered in November-December 2015, and the main subject tested was science.

However the most recent published results are taken from the 2012 exam which focused on mathematics.

Countries have gone above and beyond to improve their educational systems and compete for a high rank in the OECD’s PISA exam.

The results from the PISA exams also influence what material countries decide to use in their more regulated standardized testing such as the SAT and ACT.

In 2012, The US ranked below average in mathematics, and ranked close to average in reading and science.

The SAT and ACT exams are also an example of exams which determine students future in America.

Many students spend a year preparing, either taking private tutoring classes or taking practice SATs, both of which cost a decent amount of money.

While group classes are relatively affordable, many students seek private one-on-one tutoring which can cost over $1,000  per hour.

However, according to a study released in 2014 by the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s Principal Investigator Wiliam C. Hiss, there is no difference in the success rates of students who submit their standardized test scores to colleges, and those who don’t.

Rankings based on standardized test scores leads to countries trying to the best of their ability to get a better ranking worldwide, at the expense of their students well being and well rounded learning.

The rise in standardized testing causes many teachers to teach for the test, rather than teach students to help them learn.

Teaching for a test also effects the goals and dreams of students, who stress about exams and tests with the goal of getting nothing less than an A.

“”I feel like SOLs and SATs make students want to learn the material only to pass the test but afterwards they forget the material.” sophomore Moeez Omer said. “People should learn the material to keep it with them for the rest of their life, and standardized testing makes that more complicated than it should be.”

Taking steps to fix the problem, many universities have begun allowing optional test score submissions, and using students grade point average as the main determinative aspect of their application.

This encourages schools to follow in their footsteps, and to hopefully help make positive changes to the way students and teachers treat exams.