Standardized Testing - not a Fair Representation of Kids’ Intelligence

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 978 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 978|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

The question of this essay is “Is it truly possible for one, single test to determine the college-readiness of a kid?”. Standardized tests, such as the ACT or SAT, were first introduced in America in 1901. The initial purpose was to create a uniform exam that every university could use. The College Board could also provide secondary schools with feedback regarding how their students performed. The United States puts an emphasis on giving everyone with the determination and skills the opportunity to attend college, as it reflects the American value of egalitarianism. However, the United States overemphasizes the value of standardized tests, which creates an unfair measure of a student’s abilities. Making standardized exams a major factor in college applications forces teachers to create a curriculum centered around the test, ignores the reality that students learn and excel in different ways, and promotes socioeconomic disparities between families of different races.

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Every school system strives to have the best standardized test scores, causing class curriculums to shift from valuable lessons to strictly preparation for the ACT or SAT, and students are looking for ways how to study for a test to get the highest score. As Sumita Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of Teacher Education at Nicholls State University, explains, in 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) into a law. This tied federal funding for schools to the progress of their students. The concept behind this is that teachers will be held accountable for their students’ learning, and to measure this they use standardized testing. This is meant to ensure that every kid is receiving the proper assistance in the classroom to be successful, but instead, it creates stress among the schools to improve every year. Therefore, teachers are forced to prioritize test material over important lessons that pertain more to their subjects. Since math and reading levels are considered more important, other classes, such as history and science are overlooked.

Also, the demand for high test scores starts as early as middle school, where the former president of the University of California, Richard Atkinson, observed 12 years-olds already being taught verb analogies in preparation for the ACT. However, the intense focus on test scores is not the administration’s fault; they are just trying to ensure that they do not get penalized for low scores. Regardless, this forces teachers to drill certain concepts into kids’ heads instead of preparing them for their futures.

Not only does standardized testing limit the teachers, but also the students. Since every student has a different method of learning, it is not fair to only use a timed test to define their intelligence. As Bhattacharyya bluntly states, “...not all students do well in tests,” (Bhattacharyya). Some kids tend to do better with group projects or class discussions or may excel in other subject matter that are not looked at as closely. Simply stated, every kid has different talents, so it is impossible to find criteria that they all will succeed at. Therefore, student transcripts are a better reflection, as a lot of classes have a variety of tests, projects, and participation grades, which showcase valuable skills that standardized tests overlook. Regina Deil-Amen and Tenisha LaShawn Tevis, both professors of education policy, share students’ thoughts on this topic, and they brought up the point that test scores can be influenced by many outside factors. There could be a death in the family, disruption in the classroom, or an unexpected illness, which causes the student to not do as well. Not to mention, if students do perform poorly, their self-esteem may be diminished, even though they still may be talented in areas not defined by the test. This may hinder their ability to learn in the future.

Another factor that determines test scores is socioeconomic status. Since standardized testing is such an important factor in determining someone’s success, parents do everything they can to ensure their children pass. Therefore, the more money a family has, the more likely they are to do well. As Dr. Bhattacharyya explains, “Students from educated families have an advantage. Their parents provide books and other educated paraphernalia at home”. Dr. Atkinson draws attention to the seriousness of this disparity by mentioning that a growing number of parents seek out psychologists who will diagnose their kid with anything in order to receive more time on standardized testing. Obviously, low-income families cannot afford these additional resources, and these families tend to be Hispanic or African American.

However, Dr. Atkinson also mentions that allegations of unfairness for minorities are dismissed, as some claim that Hispanics and African Americans tend to attend poorer schools, with ill-prepared teachers, and less advanced curriculum. While this is true to an extent, the additional resources that wealthier families can provide for their children is still a large contributing factor to their overall success. Another opposing viewpoint offered by Dr. Julia Bryan, professor of counselor education, is that schools provide free ACT preparation and practice ACTs and SATs to underclassmen. While this is beneficial, wealthier families, unlike the underprivileged, are also able to pay for additional tutoring and their child to take the test as many times as necessary to obtain a high score. This unfair disadvantage sets lower-class students up for low self-esteem and future failure, which is why, statistically, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to drop out of high school.

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Overall, standardized tests are easy to pass, as long as the student has the money for additional resources, good test-taking skills, and excels in the specific areas being tested on. Therefore, these tests are not fair representations of all kids’ intelligence. Student transcripts, which are already required, give a more detailed summary of a student’s abilities and give them a chance to showcase their strengths. Test scores should not be overemphasized, but instead, simply used as additional information in the student’s application. Someone’s intelligence cannot be adequately defined by one number, as it is much more complex than that, so that number shouldn’t determine someone’s future.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Standardized Testing – Not a Fair Representation of Kids’ Intelligence. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 19, 2024, from
“Standardized Testing – Not a Fair Representation of Kids’ Intelligence.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
Standardized Testing – Not a Fair Representation of Kids’ Intelligence. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 May 2024].
Standardized Testing – Not a Fair Representation of Kids’ Intelligence [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2024 May 19]. Available from:
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