The benefits of standardized testing

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Would you feel comfortable getting into a car with a driver who has never taken a driver’s test? Most people would answer no because you do not know if these drivers are capable of driving on the road yet. This is the same for students. Standardized tests are needed to ensure that all learners meet the same set level of education for their specified age range across the board. It is not determining the IQs of students, nor is it meant to say one student is smarter than another, but it is merely to obtain data to determine areas of strength and weakness in a school board. Students and parents can take the results of the standardized tests as insights on their improvements and progress, and plan accordingly. The debate over standardized tests and if they are successful or not has been ongoing for many years, but the facts are simple; there is no other effective way to get the broad data gained from these tests.

The information obtained from standardized tests is very valuable and used to advance and strengthen the education system locally, provincially, and nationally. The standardized tests that are mandatory for high school students in Ontario include the EQAO and the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. All students take standardized tests under the same conditions and settings, and the types of questions are the same. No student has a greater advantage, meaning the results are accurate and unfiltered. After grading the completed test, the data will show trends, such as school boards that excel in math and school boards that do not. From there, governments can use this information to target areas in need of improvement, thus creating a better school environment for all. On a more local level, standardized tests can give teachers an understanding of what teaching styles work and do not work in the classroom. It gives them a deeper insight into the learning styles of students, and how they can help them excel personally. Standardized tests are the key to building a better school system, as they have been since the 19th century.

Not only do standardized tests aid in showing areas of weakness or strengths to teachers, schools, and districts, but they also show progress over the years to students and parents. Sometimes, it is hard to directly see where one has improved, but it is easy to compare results of standardized tests from year to year. As for the BSS perspective, Ms. Warrick, a guidance counsellor and teacher, believes that “it’s good to have a consistent common benchmark or set of assessment tools that you can use to look at people and see what they have in common.” It is very beneficial to see these trends because the parents and students can take the right measures to improve areas of struggle. Because parents are not present during school time and are sometimes not as involved, these tests are the best way for them to see how their child is doing in school in these specific areas. Other areas such as social and artistic skills are more suitable to be talked about in a parent-teacher conference, but these tests accurately depict a student’s strengths and weaknesses.

It is recognized that one of the main concerns of these tests is stress and pressure caused by competition between school boards and students, but if there were more conversations in schools about the real value and uses behind these tests, this could be changed for the better. If the student’s main concern was trying to do better than they did a year before, the test would be less controversial. The knowledge gained from these tests is so valuable and always put to good use for a better future for students. Therefore, instead of changing our testing process, we should change the mindset towards these tests.