Creativity should replace the “standard” in standardized tests

By Tomas Palmieri

Every year students of all ages tend to dread, fear, and worry about standardized tests days before they even take them. Some students even have to take multitudes of these tests per year including SAT, PSAT, NWEA, ACT, AP, IB; the list goes on. But do these tests properly achieve their purposes of examining student education at certain schools, properly informing admissions of schools if these students are “capable enough,” and measuring students’ ability in a given subject/class?

Although standardized tests have many purposes, their main purpose is to give a proper, unbiased examination of the effectiveness of instruction, to see if anything needs to be changed or adapted to assure students are getting the “proper” education. I wholeheartedly believe that most, if not, all standardized tests fail to achieve this goal.

Many educators may teach in a productive and enriching manner, but that does not necessarily mean that standardized testing prepares students to succeed on a strict, fact-based test. Also, many students learn and process information differently than the standardized tests present it, causing some students to not perform as well. 

Continuing the streak of improper assessment, standardized testing ignores some of the most important skills in our modern society: Creativity, communication, and collaboration. Are these tests truly measuring the effectiveness of many educators’ teaching methods if they do not properly acknowledge three of the most important skills for children, teens, and young adults to learn before adulthood during their education?

We haven’t even begun to discuss the effects standardized testing has on the students that are forced into taking them. Standardized tests can heavily affect a student’s mental health if they feel pressured to receive a good score, as an “inadequate” score on some of these tests could terminate their chances of being accepted into prestigious or academically-challenging institutions of education. 

Don’t forget about how standardized tests are also culturally biased due to their focus on the intelligence, history, and values of majority groups. This causes many students to second guess their own knowledge and skill, simply because they don’t perform well on these large, “important,” tests. Overall, this leads to the devaluing of certain skills that may be important in students’ culture, causing them to conform to the idea that specific American education is more valuable.

Although standardized tests may be able to accurately measure some students’ intelligence, the issue is that when making a “standardized” test, it is extremely difficult for the assessment to cater to all students, while also providing quality questions that accurately test a student’s knowledge on said subject. 

As a result of this, many standardized tests quickly slip into the realm of memorization. This causes students to remember and understand how to solve or do certain tasks, but only for the test. They quickly forget the skills needed, as they were developed purely for the result of a “good” score on this test.

Standardized tests need to better test creativity and innovation. Standardized tests must be reworked in a way that will accurately judge all students, while also providing not just fact-based questions that the student will forget after completion. Students’ intelligence should most definitely not be judged or assessed by most standardized tests, and even more important, students should not stress or hold themselves to more poor standards simply because of a test that does not judge them accurately.