By Christine Houghton
As I grew older, I found that more pressure and value were placed increasingly on one thing –– standardized tests. In high school especially, the goal of a school day seemed less about furthering knowledge and more about preparing for a four-hour test that would determine my scholarships, college admission and ultimately my future –– the SAT.
The Standardized Aptitude Test. The SAT.
But it scored more than just aptitude. The scores also determined your status at school, especially among honors students. Students who scored a 1500 were automatically placed above those who scored 1499 or below and the utmost reverence was given to those who scored above 1500. When those scores were eventually sent out to colleges and universities, it was clear that a higher SAT score overruled any other qualities on a student’s resume.
In middle school, I excelled at standardized tests, scoring in the top one and two percent of students taking the same tests across the country. As I got older though, my ability to retain and spit back information for a standardized test declined rapidly.
In the eyes of the American education system, I was failing at the one thing I was supposed to do. Teachers would question how I was doing, commenting on how this was so unlike me and how I seemed so bright despite my scores.
This whole idea confused me. I was a very good writer, I excelled in my video production class, I had hundreds of hours of service and was a two-sport varsity athlete. I had everything I needed to start preparing for my future career as a sports reporter –– so why was that not good enough?
I believe standardized tests are important overall, but I find a problem with the weight put on them and the frequency at which they are administered. The pressure put on students to learn for a test and not learn for a future career or life in general can be toxic to how students value their own intelligence.
There is so much more to a person than how much information they can remember and spit back. A person’s intelligence should not be defined by a score on a test, but rather by a variety of skills and knowledge that they can apply to their careers and day-to-day lives.
A change as simple as this one can start the ball rolling for the adjustments that need to occur in our country’s education system. We can start by nurturing the needs of its most important element –– the student.