The Disvalue of Standardized Testing

“I’m sitting in a small desk, in a large room with 100 other kids around me. I am told I can only have 3 things in front of me; a pencil, an eraser, and my calculator. I look up at the clock and begin to countdown the 4 ½ hours until I can escape the captivity that is the ACT. “Time starts…now”, the proctor announces as he writes the timing up on the cleared white board. I begin taking the test. Read the question, cross out the wrong answers and bubble, and that happens 215 times over the next few hours. I answer the question based on a split second of thinking, then move on the next. No comprehension is required, no critical thinking expected, but simply an impulse, a reflex you may call it. So I sit there patiently, finishing my test as is expected of me, but using none of the creative juices in my brain, just the quick mechanical spitting out of answers.”

One of the biggest questions that has been running through my head since the beginning of high school, is about standardized testing. It’s the norm, it’s what you expect in high school, and I was ready for that. It didn’t take long for me to realize the lack of substance and creativity these tests have. I never did well on these tests, and I never will. What is required of you is to show that you were able to cram information into your brain for the short amount of time it takes you to complete the test. Never am I asked to take a side, share my ideas, or offer a solution to a problem I am passionate about, but I am expected to guess the correct definition or equation from 5 answers, leaving you with a 20% chance you get the question right simply by guessing. As I prepare for college and the ‘real world’, I find myself constantly asking what good this is doing for me. Sure I need the scores to pass my high school classes and get into college, but what long term effect does it have, how does this show me as a person?

I am a creative person. I don’t showcase my learning through answering a question where the right answer is one of 5 given to you. I don’t showcase my learning through being able to spit out a definition in the seconds you have to answer it. I thrive in situations where I am expected to think for my own and beyond the borders. The situations where a mentor helps you through a process of picking a project you are passionate about, and spending months working towards a goal that you set for yourself. When I set the curriculum for myself, when I have a teacher who doesn’t set my work, but pushes and challenges my work, I’ve hit the jackpot. The ‘real world’ is not about sitting in a room, by yourself and answering questions or providing solutions using a reflex, no. Life is about communication, working with other to share ideas and push each other, critical thinking, using all of the creative juices in your brain to come up with the best solutions you can think of, and passion. I believe you will never succeed in anything if you don’t have the passion to go with it. School, college, life; it should all be about finding what you love, what you care about so much that you are excited to wake up every morning and explore some more. That is how I am going to live my life. Not like a standardized test, cranking out meaningless information that doesn’t show who I am, but communicating and thinking critically about my passion. That’s life, that’s what excites me every morning and that’s when people get to see who I am as a person. What about you, what’s your passion?




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