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Op-Ed: The Standard

Standardized tests today are elevated to a supreme status—colleges consider them to be efficient, accurate measures of a student’s academic abilities. But is there truth in that assumption?

Such tests seek to define intelligence within test scores and grade point averages. These numbers are calculated to represent ability, but they undermine the importance of education. While education should provide students with a set of useful skills, it should also foster a student’s desire to learn simply for the sake of learning.

Highschoolers see constant reminders of who they have become: a GPA, SAT, ACT or AP score. An effect of this obsession with grades is that students care less about truly learning or retaining information. The main focus of students lies not in learning and discovering, but in having an A to speak for it.

For instance, between 2008-2011, 20 students at Great Neck North High School were accused of either paying others to take the SAT or ACT in their place or of taking the test for someone else. Did they intend on raising their scores so as to be admitted into a “better college”? And did they not anticipate that these problems would arise, once accepted into college?

In spite of all this, sadly and yet not surprisingly, I cannot suggest any alternative method. While there are some accredited colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT, the options remain limited. This system does place scores above learning—reducing the importance of creativity and learning itself.

But it seems there is little to be done. Colleges evaluate thousands of applicants; thus, careful assessment on an individual basis is quite simply not an option. I suppose grades and other convenient indications, must, for now, suffice.

Perhaps it is time, then, to recognize that knowledge is equally as important as what you do with that knowledge. It’s not as if test scores alone can ensure success in life.

Source: Image courtesy of amenic181 from

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As part of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Editorial Board welcomes reader comments and debate and encourages community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, the editorial board does allow anonymous comments on articles as long as the perspective cannot be obtained elsewhere, and they are respectful and relevant. We do require a valid, verified email address, which will not be displayed, but will be used to confirm your comments. Because we are a 6-12 school, the Editorial Board reserves the right to omit profanity and content that we deem inappropriate for our audience. We do not publish comments that serve primarily as an advertisement or to promote a specific product. Comments are moderated and may be edited in accordance with the Oracle’s profanity policy, but the Editorial Board will not change the intent or message of comments. They will appear once approved.
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    Elizabeth EnglishNov 12, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Very thoughtful op-ed, Angelica. Thank you. I agree entirely that standardized tests are an unfortunate by-product of the college search process, The way I have always regarded standardized tests is this: They are an essential if detestable part of the game, and I think we do students a great disservice by pretending otherwise. If gaining access to a competitive college matters to you, then learning to succeed on a standardized test is a skill like any other: it requires commitment, strategy, and practice, and I’m pleased that Archer’s college guidance office is becoming more proactive about this fact. I say this not only because I want Archer students to be thoroughly prepared for the college search process but because the only thing I find more objectionable than the SAT and ACT is the industry that’s sprung up around them, preying on applicant fears in a crazed college marketplace.

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    Kristin TaylorNov 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Marisa, I am so glad to hear that you feel Archer has tried to push students beyond their scores—that is so important to us. The pressure to achieve, achieve, achieve is so intense; and I truly believe that where you go to school is infinitely less important than what you do once you get there. I hate the tendency scores have to devalue the joy of learning.

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    Marisa LondonNov 7, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Last year, in my English class we discussed the pro’s and con’s of standardized testing and unfortunately, like you, we couldn’t find a better alternative for colleges to compare students from different schools. As a senior, though, I feel that Archer has definitely encouraged students to think of themselves as worth more than just their scores. Archer girls are typically mindful of their peers and, so, we do not publicize our grades and scores. I think this awareness of others’ feelings also helps students compete with no one but themselves when it comes to grades and scores. While this self-drive encourages students to collaborate and learn the material for themselves, I do think that students still put too much emphasis on the resulting grade or score. I hope one day soon, schools find a way to give students feedback on how well they understand material and compare students to each other without making scores the most important aspect of education.