Standardized Testing does not Test Learning

Bryceson Harris, Videographer

Memorizing facts does not constitute student learning. Standardized tests only test memorization and make no effort to test growth. You wouldn’t forget everything after a test if it actually tested learning. While it does keep students studying, that doesn’t equate to the students learning more than they memorize.

The ACT and SAT are notorious for being memorization-based since a student can fail for simply forgetting something. My personal experience was pretty awful, and the worst part is that I couldn’t remember a single question that carried the importance of my entire future. 

Instead of enhancing our understanding of the topic at hand, standardized tests have a formulaic and outdated form of gathering how much we looked at the study guide last night. Even teachers tell us to “regurgitate” everything onto the test, and I think that’s a pretty good way to describe it since when you regurgitate something, you get rid of it, never wanting to see it again. That’s a little bit gross of a comparison, but it fits almost perfectly with how we treat testing. You use the information you looked at last night and put it on the paper, then you lose that information since you don’t need it anymore. I can remember the anxiety of the ACT more than a question from my most recent quiz, which kind of shows how much we throw away information after tests because we’re immediately thrown into something else.

Tests don’t measure learning but the idea is that testing may invoke learning through studying. But just as tests don’t function how they should, the way we study for standardized tests affects the outcome. We spend a couple hours getting the materials but it doesn’t really help us learn it. The study guides are usually based off of the test itself, leading into the same problem — you memorize the topic and slap an answer down in the blank. Studying is good but when you only do it once it won’t stick with you, you won’t learn, and that’s what tests unfortunately encourage. It’s still important to remember that a number in the gradebook doesn’t represent how much you really know. Studying doesn’t equate to learning unless you commit and vary your studies. Standardized tests only test memorization and you’ll just forget everything after that test you learned beforehand; out with the old, in with the new. And remember, always circle C.