Opinion: Standardized testing should not hinder student’s academic career

Lauryn Olivarez, Opinion Editor

It’s no secret that standardized tests such as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, STAAR, create a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress amongst the individuals who take it. Tests like STAAR shouldn’t be a deciding factor in a child’s education.

Starting at the ripe age of eight, kids begin preparing for a four-hour long test that will conclude whether or not they’re prepared to enter into the next grade level. Expecting a kid, especially one whose day still revolves around recess, to sit still and focus for such a long period of time (with a very small break in between), could be compared to wanting a puppy to stay calm and quiet.

Standardized testing is also incredibly harsh on students. While many think the tests are an easy pass, they still create additional pressure. On top of the Dual Credit and Advanced Placement classes, extracurricular activities, and jobs, high school students find it ridiculous that they have to take the time to prepare for a test that they shouldn’t even have to take. Those enrolled in college-level classes are already deemed “college-ready,” so why are they being forced to partake in an exam that tells them whether or not they’re ready for the next stage of high school?

One argument in favor of state-mandated testing is that it gives parents insight into how well-prepared their child is for the next grade level. A single test shouldn’t decide how smart someone is. If their grades demonstrate academic knowledge, shouldn’t that be enough? A lot of people have test anxiety, lowering their performance ability on exams. Let’s say they completely bomb the STAAR, but have an A/B average. Are they deemed “not smart enough” simply due to one score?

Tests like STAAR are mainly used to evaluate the ability of the teachers to educate their kids. In all actuality, a lot of them would be relieved if the exam were to be gotten rid of altogether. It also provides the state of Texas with data to see which schools are and aren’t providing the correct material to ensure students succeed.

Instead of requiring standardized tests, the state could look at graduation and GPA rates to determine the quality of the teaching being done in their schools. Just how one test shouldn’t make or break a student, the same could be said for educators. They need to be evaluated on an overall basis instead of on a once-a-year thing.

It’s essential that the state of Texas, and perhaps the nation as well, reconsider its outlook on mandated tests. In doing so, not only will the parents and teachers get a more accurate gauge on the academic livelihood of their children, but an increase in performance as well with the elimination of an unnecessary (and draining) assessment.