The Standardized Testing Lie

Standardized Testing has been used for many years. The US started using standardized tests to measure academics in college applicants in 1926, using the SAT and ACT. In addition, standardized testing for elementary and middle school started in 1965 with the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act.” But, is this testing actually beneficial to the students who are taking them?

In the United States, standardized tests are given to kids as young as six years old. Is it logical to attempt to measure the level of intellect in a child at that young of an age? I don’t think so, as the claims stating standardized testing is beneficial are based on outdated reports and inaccurate knowledge.

The US has been stuck on these outdated principles for way too long. The Department of Education has ignored numerous studies that conclude standardized testing is not beneficial as it doesn’t take into account the creativity and critical thinking of many students. Also, these schools only give one test or, in more funded schools, a few tests to each grade of students. Different students have different learning abilities and different test-taking skills. A measure of how you do on a test one day doesn’t represent your progression.

In schools, these test scores matter to the schools because higher averages mean more funding. This is why many schools pressure students to do good on these tests. This encourages many students to cheat on these tests. In addition, the schools administering this test are stressed as well.

Many people praise standardized testing for making the teachers accountable, and while this is true, it puts a lot of stress on the teachers. Many teachers will do rigorous test preparation so that the students will do well on these tests. This takes chunks of learning off from the end of the year. About sixty percent of teachers say standardized testing makes them want to quit teaching. The stress put on teachers is insane, perhaps even more insane than the stress on students. Both teachers and students alike need a break from standardized testing.

Countries like Finland don’t administer standardized testing until high school, yet they are ranked on the top of education systems in the world. The school system in Finland is way more relaxed: four days of school a week, no homework, four-hour school days, and, by law, for every 45 minutes of teaching there is 15 minutes for recess (which is required to be given to students from preschool to eighth grade). Studies show that a relaxed education system like Finland is more proficient than a stressed system like the US.

Lastly, these extra tests don’t even increase scores like they were meant to do. Even after the NCLBA (No Child Left Behind Act), the Race to the Top program, and the ESSA (Every Students Succeeds Act), standardized test scores decreased. Ninety percent of students do better on their regular school work than on standardized testing. Why? Well, because many students are not comfortable with the format of testing and are more attentive while doing homework or in the classroom.

Our reliability on standardized testing has to be addressed and acted on. The US is one of the only countries that still uses standardized testing for children under 16. Students are what matter, not the funding. This reliance on a test score has lasted for way too long. It is imagination, strength, and cooperation that will get you through life, not a test score. These tests are keeping our children from succeeding.


Mike Peters, Laurence Peters (2002) Standing up for Progressive Education: Alfie Kohn and the United Kingdom, FORUM, 44(2), 82-83.

Alcocer, Paulina, and NEA. “History of Standardized Testing in the United States.” NEA,

“A Nation At Risk.” Archived, US Department of Education (ED),

Weller, Chris. “8 Reasons Finland's Education System Is Ranked on the Top.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 6 Dec. 2017,

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