Colleges returning to using standardized testing for admissions

Standardized testing has long been debated over. Now with many colleges after the pandemic requiring SAT scores again to apply, many students struggle to rise above their scores. These scores often determine who will get into what school. This may seem fair at first; however, after students work hard throughout their high school years, getting perfect grades and keeping up their GPA, the SATs can determine what school you’re “right” for depending on its score and not high school ones, flushing many people’s hard work down the drain. SAT scores can also determine financial aid or merits that go to the student from the school, putting even more pressure on the students.

School counselor Chris Wood said, “It places a level of stress, in terms of, ‘Am I prepared for this?’ and ‘Can I do this?’ Which I don’t think is a bad thing because there are going to be a lot of things throughout your life that make you feel that same way. That’s the thing I try to work on with students. Your value and who you are as a student is not measured by one individual test.” 

Even small differences in standardized test results can lead to huge differences in opportunity. Biology teacher and swim team coach Scott Bohlmann said, “There was once a gal on our swim team who, for her, the difference between one more point from going from a 33 to a 34 took her from five grand of merit based scholarships to like 18 grand, making Iowa State effectively free. For her all the sudden that one little point and all that studying she was going to have to put in, was huge.”

Students aren’t the only ones affected by standardized testing; teachers, although not immediately affected, are often judged by their students’ scores on standardized tests. Schools are also often ranked by their standardized testing scores, with some receiving benefits and receiving extra pay leaving other schools behind in the dust. 

Some U.S. states have even tried to base teachers’ pay on standardized test scores from their students. Education Week, a non-profit organization that has been covering news about K-12 schooling since 1981, wrote how Texas tried this method with some of its underperforming schools, and stated that the difference in pay had little to no effect on the students’ scores.

Even with all the problems of standardized testing, there are benefits as well. Woods said SATs, for example, are important, for without them, colleges would only have high school grades to examine for applications to their schools. However, with so many students with the same grades and or skills, it gets hard to pick who should go to their college and who shouldn’t, complicating the process. The SATs help with this and often help determine who is ready for their college and who isn’t. 

Rather than get rid of standardized testing altogether, Wood said using the tests improves the process of telling whether a student is proficient. He said research has shown again and again that the SATs and other standardized tests can show real information about a student by collecting that information more effectively and without bias, thereby helping students in the long run.

“Standardized testing is one piece of that puzzle that helps them to look at students academically speaking. I do believe that they should be one piece of the puzzle, but not the whole puzzle,” Wood said.

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