Are our Schools a Perfect Score: An Examination of Standardized Testing in America

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The application for her dream school is finally done, and she’s giving it one last onceover before hitting the fated, Submit button. Her eyes are caught by the standardized test score that seems to scream Throw this application away right off the page. It seems out of character for the student with a GPA higher than a 4.0 who involves themselves in a multitude of afterschool activities all on top of a job, and that’s because it is.

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In fact it looks almost as if it was simply a typo. But the fact is that this incredibly bright student who otherwise has the perfect application will probably get denied without question because she simply isn’t fit for the college because of one test score. One test score is all it takes to ruin her dreams.

High-stakes testing can be defined as any test where the results are used to make an important decision about a student such as acceptance to a college, promotion to the next grade, ability to graduate, etc. (“”The Glossary,”” 2014). Tests can be qualified as standardized when all students are being tested on the same material and each student has been given the same opportunity to be successful. It is also scored and administered in a fashion that would be the exact same for every student (“”The Glossary,”” 2015).

This is an issue because tests such as the SAT and ACT among other tests are administered for the sole purpose for colleges and scholarship programs to determine an applicant’s intellectual ability. The chief mission of standardized tests is to reference achievement compared to the normal, average basis, yet if the national average is above normal, then students who are achieving higher than normal scores are in the lower half. These tests can be used when an excess of applicants for a program is present so that the best candidates may be chosen. However, this then does not take into account any other capabilities of a student when only the test is considered. (I.E. college)


No Child Left Behind

In 1999, students all around the world took the 3rd International Science & Math Test. The United States scored 28th out of all nations (Oliver et al., n.d.). This urged George W. Bush to push his No Child Left Behind Act, passed Congress with Bipartisan support due to it’s motivational tennants to help both our students and focus on moving us up on the ranking list. No Child Left Behind focused on testing students yearly to identify schools that are underperforming and help fix them or eliminate the schools that are consistently failing and transfer their students to better performing schools. The act also increased the number of federally mandated standardized tests from six to 17 (Oliver et al.,

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