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The effects of standardized testing on student motivation and performance

If you are a student, you might have an idea of the tests and the purpose of their holding. Most of us have passed various tests on different subjects since school. For example, teachers conduct tests to define students' knowledge of the subject, advance a student to the next grade, confirm enrollment in a college, etc. Our article aims to define the effects of standardized testing on student motivation and performance.

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The purpose of standardized tests

Most tests for students are standardized. Among the standardized tests for high school and college are LSAT, SAT, GRE, ACT, and others. So, let us define the purpose of standardized testing. A standardized test is any type of test that requires students to answer the same questions from an offered selection of options. This approach allows the identification of the individual results of each participant in the testing process and compares the results of all students.

Standardized tests are still subjects of continuous doubts and debates in the US. However, most teachers and education professionals admit the advantages of the standardized testing methodology. Among the benefits of this type of testing are objective scoring of the results and excluding the possibility of subjective evaluations.

The impact of standardized tests on students

All those who doubt the effectiveness of structured testing mention the potential stress for students caused by this methodology. The high level of pressure and responsibility lowers the fairness of results, as anxiety does not let students focus.

Another potential issue relates to the learning programs. The need to emphasize studies by passing a standardized test often forces teachers to adjust the curriculum and teach only the material that will be on the tests. Narrowing down the topics for the course can make lessons less interesting for students and the programs less creative.

Finally, the impact of standardized tests on the level of students' motivation harms their desire to explore. Students are not free to choose the subjects they want to learn as they must only focus on the topics that will be covered in the test.

The impact of standardized tests on the education system

The education system also gets hurt by the impact of standardized testing. Their focus on learning shifts to the requirements of tests and ratings, so students' performance becomes worse as they tend to only learn the standard program. Many students must choose whether they will concentrate on preparing for tests or focus on learning subjects for school. Considering the volume of information, there is not enough time to dedicate to both activities.

How to lower the negative impact of standardized testing on students

Many educational establishments are looking for ways of reducing the negative impact of standardized testing on students. The inability to replace this type of evaluation of students' knowledge with another specific testing makes administrations thin over working strategies. Here are some of them:

Reducing the emphasis of standardized tests

The stress caused by the obligation to pass too many tests has a huge impact on students' attitude to studies and overall level of anxiety. Having only one structured test per year will let students consent to other types of learning activities. One annual test will be enough to determine the level of students' knowledge gained over a year of studies.

Another significant factor in reducing the stress of standardized tests is diversifying the measures of students' performance. The sum of all grades gained during the year of study must be no less important than the results of annual testing.

Broader curriculum focus

Collaborative efforts of all sides of the educational process must lead to the refinement of policies that define the curriculum. The focus must be broader than only the grades of a student. This is to ensure that an individual gets information from various sources and can freely choose what subject he or she wishes to focus on. Educators also should consider that the demand for specialists with certain knowledge is subject to change. So, having diverse knowledge would be a benefit in several years when a student graduates.

Wrap up

Since standardized tests are subjects of continuous debate, there is a need to work on their improvement. It is time to underline the core ideas about the effects of standardized testing on student motivation and performance. Since standardized testing is mostly obligatory and irreplaceable, educators must aim to achieve a balance in the curriculum so that students can gain different knowledge. Collaborative efforts must be thoughtful and reduce the emphasis on standardized tests. One of the ways to lower the stress of students is reducing the number of tests, relying on a bunch of them with one annual testing procedure.