Why I hate standardized tests

If someone passes the ISAT, what does that actually mean?

Ponder that for a moment.

If you look at the Sample ISAT test for 3rd grade, you will see that there are a mixture of different ways to respond; multiple choice (the worst evil in the world), fill in the blank, short answer, extended answer, etc. To pass the ISAT, you only need to answer 55% of the questions correct. Unbelievable!!


Even if this controversial downward migration of the bottom limit was a moot point or if did not exist and we still had 2006 standards (64%), that is still really pitiful. Point being that even if the Chicago Tribune article were a complete fallacy (“don’t believe everything you read on the internet”), I know that there is some abysmal level of correct questions needed to pass.

So again I ask, what does it really mean when someone passes a standardized test? Does it mean the person will be good at conflict resolution, be able to identify appropriate choices, have a solid basis for moral decisions? Does it mean the person will be able to adapt to changing environments or thrive in the current environment? No, it does give any hint whatsoever! Will the person be self-sufficient? Able to work well with others? Pleasant? Charismatic?

No, all these tests tell us is whether or not the person is able to answer some arbitrary number of questions correct. Period.

Granted, they are used as a tool to help measure (ie, metrics) or gauge if a student has grasped certain fundamental concepts. If people were pieces of lumber and I were building a house, then by all means I would want them to align to a certain standard allowing for a given percentage of error – even still a whopping 40% margin of error is HUGE! Besides, people are not pieces of lumber. They are people for crying out loud.

Here is the bottom-line: What is really important? Obviously, the system is telling us that a perfect score on the standardized test is not a priority. If it were, the minimum pass percent would be 100%. I would submit that, above all else, how a person relates to another is of primal importance. We are social creatures.

I get the feeling that our governments merely want to boast at how many numbers we have who have reached a certain level of achievement. Numbers. And these are the people we voted into office.

3 Responses to “Why I hate standardized tests”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    Thank you, Sir Ramanathan:

    Why don’t we focus on conflict resolution and effective communication? Oh wait, yeah, you can’t measure those!

  2. The Purpose of Education: Part 1 « A citizen’s blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] that nowhere above did I say we should not have standardized tests (and yes, I still hate them *grin*). I did not say that we should do away with STEM (no love lost there, […]

  3. ISATs | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] am no fan of the ISAT or any standardized test. Ironically, as I stated in that post, the minimum pass rate should be 100% if they mean business, […]

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