Op-ed Winners

The Controversy of Standardized Testing

While standardized testing is remarkably important in the college admissions process, the process is highly flawed and needs improvement. The test exists solely to compare the academic successes of separate students applying to various colleges. While standardized testing is still important in the college process, the testing can not accurately compare students based on their scores, as there are several concerns about fairness and equal opportunity.

Standardized testing is indeed necessary for the college process but needs immense improvement. Some colleges may not be able to receive all required information solely off a student’s GPA and high school transcript. A top student at a less academically rigorous school will most likely have a higher GPA and transcript as opposed to a regular student at a highly challenging academic institution. Colleges need to differentiate these students fairly and equally, as their respective transcripts and GPAs do not necessarily represent their intelligence. Standardized testing represents a universal measure of intelligence, taken under identical conditions. 

While there are some important factors to having standardized testing, the current system is highly flawed. A major concern is that standardized testing is a representation of familial wealth rather than intelligence. A 2009 New York Times study found that there is a direct correlation between the wealth of a family and SAT scores. Families making upwards of 200,000 dollars gross income per year scored an average of 560 on the writing section of the SAT, while Families making under 20,000 scored an average of 430. As gross annual income increased in the families, so did the scores of the students. Therefore the current method of standardized testing is a representation of wealth, not necessarily intelligence. Families who can afford to send their children to test preparation classes and private tutors are going to see better results on the SAT and ACT than families who can not afford this luxury. 

Furthermore, standardized testing is not entirely fair to certain types of students. While there are some accommodations in place for those with learning disabilities, there is still a lack of help provided to students with other mental struggles. The tests are designed for a specific type of student, and all students who stray from that norm are automatically at a disadvantage. 

Finally, standardized testing does not necessarily predict future success at colleges, one of the main points it aims to achieve. A 2019 Las Angeles Times study found that The six-year graduation rate for those with SAT scores between 900 and 1090 was 81% compared with 83% for those with SAT scores between 1100 and 1600, the highest score possible. The rate of students returning for a second year was 91% for those with the lower scores and 94% for those with the highest scores. This data shows no real discrepancy between students earning a mediocre 1100 on the SAT and students earning a perfect score of 1600. Therefore the test is not an accurate depiction of future success at colleges.

Overall, standardized testing is a necessary part of college admissions. Colleges must be able to interpret the intelligence of different students and compare them on a fair, equal, universal standard; however, the SAT and ACT are too flawed to continue having an impact on college admissions, as it is mainly a measure of financial wealth not current and future academic success. Both of these tests need to be reformed largely to ensure that all students are fairly treated. 

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