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The Student News Site of Taft Charter High School

Taft Tribune

The Student News Site of Taft Charter High School

Taft Tribune

The Student News Site of Taft Charter High School

Taft Tribune

Dreading the Results

Standardized Tests and Why We Should Try
The dread of having to take a standardized test.

With PSAT scores right around the corner, classes are full of anxious and irritated students. Most people disdain standardized tests, however, I not only appreciate and recognize their significance but enjoy taking them.

Beryl Lieff Benderly for the APS (Association of Psychological Sciences) wrote, “Long experience has proven the SAT an accurate predictor of grades in early college.” and Leslie Stickler comments in The College of New Jersey Journal of Student Scholarship, “As a measure of differences, the SAT is exceptionally accurate; SAT scores predict 20 to 30% of the variance in freshman college course grades despite differences among schools, in course difficulty, in professors’ grading practices, and in student effort, mood, and adjustment to college.”

It is an almost irrefutable fact that the SAT does accurately do its job, it being to assess the predicted performance of students attending a four-year university. A student’s performance is not based solely on assignments completed; to successfully go through college the experiences gained and the lessons taken away are what matters. While getting a high or low score may affect you and your admission into college, it depends on what you do with it.

Officials, like Howard T. Everson (College Board and APS member) recognize this discrepancy. Everson says, “[We now] know that [abilities] can change in terms of experience, context, and education.” It is important to acknowledge that the socioeconomic background of a person can have an impact on their SAT result. People from less privileged environments may acquire lower scores because they are not provided the same opportunities as those from a background with more access to resources for education. Informing others how your score was affected is important; the administrators will be informed on how these difficulties can affect one’s performance. It is regrettable and a loss to have a less-than-ideal score, but it is still a part of who you are.

On the controversy of the SAT, Stickler comments, “Although the SAT’s statistical properties are second to none, the test and its makers are constantly under criticism for alleged biases. However, social and historical analyses reveal that such biases are not an inherent quality of the test; rather, they result from the ways people use the test and from inequities in American culture.”

As Stickler mentioned, the SAT accounts for these predicaments in your results, but it can’t be adjusted to accommodate them. As a standardized test, it can’t feel empathy; it delivers a raw, unaltered outcome. The results are supposed to be interpreted; you are supposed to explain your results as altering your score would provide an inaccurate evaluation. Standardized test scores typically impact a person during college applications, however, the impact may be lessened through a section dedicated to cases where a score should be interpreted.

“In the 1940s, Harvard president James Conant and his assistant, Henry Chauncey, spearheaded the use of standardized testing to break the grip of the Northeastern social elite, and the exclusive New England prep schools they attended, on the nation’s most prestigious colleges,” Benderly discovers. It is quite ironic that the SAT faces controversy when it was created to promote inclusivity. This is especially ironic considering that Harvard, an elitist university, was the first to promote diversity.

Some people aren’t faced with academically impacting difficulties in life and simply have a lower score; they don’t have an excuse for their scores. Receiving a poor score is still your score; it is a representation of a part of you. The SAT is a test to see if you can take a test. The results you earn are authentic, but there is more to be said.

People often explain their scores by saying they aren’t good test takers, but that is the point. When people look at your test, they are looking to see if you are proficient at taking a test.
An English teacher at Taft Charter High School, Ms Ayvazian, thinks, “There is a benefit, but there are also challenges over tests. I feel sometimes the measure is not really accurate because of the way they’re testing, the length of the testing, and the frequency of the testing. So, I don’t know what the right answer is, but the format is the answer because everybody has a different testing modality.”

Colleges aren’t just judging applicants based on their scores; they also consider other factors. The removal of testing as a factor is limiting the colleges’ ability to completely assess a person. People who do well on the test are hurt by being unable to show a favorable part of themselves, even though colleges are already limited in their understanding of a person. While others who do poorly will be more considered than they would have with their test scores. This provides an unfair advantage to people who don’t do as well on the test.

To me, not being able to submit my SAT score hurt my chances of getting into almost all of the colleges I am applying to. Tests, not just the SAT, help me by improving my grades. In general, I tend to do better on tests than on the assignments leading up to them. As somebody who isn’t as appealing to colleges, my lack of extracurriculars and fewer assessments is ultimately damaging. The added weight of other factors in college applications is harmful to all.

As an assessment the data isn’t just being received to judge you, it is also to evaluate the standards that we are faced with. Most of the time the results of standardized tests are used as stats and figures of data that inform the state, district, and school on student performance. No harm is done to you personally as a result, however, LAUSD is changing that.

Usually, when LAUSD gives one of their many required standardized tests many kids just hit answers randomly (some may try because they want to do well or earn extra credit). Beyond the factor of not caring, some students genuinely don’t understand the questions. These students are scared and don’t want to try for fear of failure, but this only harms them. The consequences may not be immediate, but there are future consequences that will affect you.

Having an apathetic attitude may carry over to times when it really matters. For instance, last month nearly half of my class had to leave and do IReady-affiliated work (an assessment system used by LAUSD). I can guarantee many of those kids weren’t trying at all! As a result, they fell behind in class and some classes were forced to stop learning.

Taking a test or filling out taxing forms are similar in length and complexity to what we see on standardized tests. Taking standardized tests keeps you on your toes (although I agree we shouldn’t have to constantly and consistently take these tests).

If you are more thorough and take more time, you may surprise yourself with what you know and can do on a test. I have seldom been properly taught grammar, and yet I do quite well in these portions of the test. I simply use the idea of questioning if this sounds right, what answer is wrong, and logic (inferences and context clues). Using these simple tricks can really make a difference.

Teachers also benefit as much as they are hurt by these tests. These tests may take time out of learning and teaching, but they also provide valuable information on where students are at. However, as mentioned they distract students and remove the opportunity to learn for at least a full day. Ms Dormizzi, an English teacher at Taft Charter High School, comments, “Unfortunately, the tests are an easy way of quickly figuring out right away where kids are because you put it through a Scantron, and it can analyze ABCD. Handwritten like the AP takes time. They’ve got all these people on board grading each individual test. So, I see the reason why they had to standardize.”

As a student, I can relate to the irritation. When I expect to have a big test the next day, but I am faced with a seemingly useless test I get beyond annoyed. During these instances, it is important to remember that the teachers weren’t the ones to decide on the day and time to administer the test. When thoughtfully administered (at the end of a unit or the year) standardized tests can be easily given and taken.

Regardless of how you feel about it, the future is bleak for standardized testing. Colleges all around the world have started to go test blind. However, LAUSD has not given up on periodically giving out these mandated standardized tests. It is important to take the time and try even if you don’t see its massive importance.

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About the Contributor
Sarah J. Stark
Sarah J. Stark, Editor, Producer Ameritas, Writer
Avid Reader, Grammar enthusiast, and happy to be here

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