To start with, standardized test can produce majorpressure on students and faculties. Themore a test is made to “count”—in terms of being the basis forpromoting or retaining students, for funding or closing down schools—the morethat anxiety is likely to rise and the less valid the scores become. (Kohn,2000) According to education researcher Gregory J. Cizek (2001), anecdotes abound”illustrating how testing produces gripping anxiety in even the brighteststudents, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both.” Given the fact thatno content is known in advance, students have to memorize an impossiblyextensive amount of knowledge. In many countries, like South Korea or Japan,standardized test is considered a prerequisite to get into college, this putsan incredible amount of pressure on students and has even been linked tostudent suicide.
The pressure can also increase rate of cheating amongst bothstudents and teachers. Attaching high stakes to test results also increasescheating and other efforts to boost scores without improving educationalquality. According to Amrein-Beardsley(2009), low-performing students are “encouraged to stay home”on test days or “counseled to quit or be suspended” before tests areadministered. State education boards are “lowering the bar”:manipulating exam content or scoring so that tests are easier for students topass. Highpressure of testing can change educating to “teaching to the test” for manyteachers. A 2007survey of 1,250 civics, government, and social studies teachers showed that 75%of those teaching current events cited standardized tests as the reason.(Knight Foundation, 2007) The increasing focus on exam performance had piledthe pressure on to both staff and students and caused them to sacrifice broaderlearning. A national 2007 study by the Center on Education Policy reported thatsince 2001, 44% of school districts had reduced the time spent on science,social studies and the arts by an average of 145 minutes per week in order tofocus on reading and math.
(Ravitch, 2010) The content tend to be contrived exercises that measure howmuch students have managed to cram into short-term memory. Those who score welloften understand very little of the subject in question. Students may be ableto find a synonym or antonym for a word without being able to use it properlyin a sentence. They may have memorized the steps of comparing the areas of twofigures without really understanding geometric principles at all. Students who are simply “taught to the test”fail to achieve a lasting and comprehensive understanding of subject matter. Thepractice also reduces the validity of standardized tests, and can create anincorrect profile of a student’s achievement.
(Kohn, 2000)Despitebeing widely used, standardized tests are often unreliable in measuring student’swhole ability. First, we need to talk about its format. Most standardized testsuse the multiple-choice format. With this form of test, all calculations andreasoning are excluded, students cannot explain how they come up with theiranswer.
Some students may even randomly pick one answer and still have a chanceof being correct. Another point worth considering is how its result canfluctuate from time to time. Measurement errors in testing may result from awide variety of factors, such as a student’s mental and emotional state duringthe test period or the conditions under which the test was administered.
Forexample, students may have been unusually tired, hungry, or emotionallydistressed, or distractions such as loud noises, disruptive peers, or technicalproblems could have adversely affected test performance. Nevertheless, standardizedtest can only measure isolated skills, while ignoring other important skillsthat seem much more relevant to student’s future. For example, interpersonal skills can neither betaught in a book nor be evaluated through a paper test, it should be developedand indicated through real-life experiences. Other neglected skills that can bementioned are resilience, out-of-the-box thinking, cooperative, etc.
Theability to remember facts is heavily emphasized that students mayconfuse being smart with knowing a lot of stuff. Because the tests are timed, students may be encouraged tosee intelligence as a function of how quickly people can do things. Or becausethe tests often rely on a multiple-choice format, students may infer “thata right or wrong answer is available for all questions and problems” inlife and that “someone else already knows the answer to all thesequestions, so original interpretations are not expected; the task is to findor guess the right answer, rather than to engage in interpretive activity.
“(Kohn, 2000) Only focusing on specific facts and functions goes directlyagainst the nature of learning.Not only is standardized test unreliable, it also fail toassist students in their future career. How many jobs demand that employeescome up with the right answer on the spot, from memory, while the clock isticking? How often are they forbidden to ask coworkers for help, or to dependon a larger organization for support—even in a society that worships self-sufficiency?And when the work quality needs to be judged, how common is it that a secretpencil-and-paper exam will be given? Isn’t it far more likely that theevaluator will look at examples of what has been done, or perhaps watch howthey perform their normal tasks?