Introduction A standardized test is an exam that is administered and graded in a standard manner. The SAT and ACT are well-known standardized tests that are used for college admissions in the United States. Standardized testing has been a part of American education since the 1800s, but is it really a fair measure of student ability?
Constructive Debater 1 Henry Richard Phelps, an author and researcher who has devoted most of his working life to education, says that standardized testing has a positive effect on students. He came to this conclusion after reviewing a century’s worth of studies regarding the benefits of student testing. Phelps also insists that standardized testing is an objective measure of one’s scholastic abilities. Without standardized tests, policy makers would have to analyze tests scored by school teachers. In particular, multiple-choice tests are graded by machines, so they’re not subject to human bias.
Constructive Debater 2 Ashley Standardized tests cannot accurately assess one’s scholastic aptitude. According to Gerald Bracey, an education researcher, standardized tests are unable to measure the following qualities: creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, compassion, resourcefulness, honesty, and integrity. Standardized testing forces schools to reduce the time spent on teaching the actual curriculum. Instead of learning valuable life lessons, students are learning how to become good test takers.
Rebuttal Debater 1 Henry Because of standardized testing, students are learning important basic skills. According to education expert Patte Barth, preparing students for standardized tests is a good thing because it focuses on teaching essential content and skills. In addition, this practice gets rid of time-wasting activities and motivates children to become better students. In 2004, the U.S. Department of Education stated, “If teachers cover subject matter required by the standards and teach it well, then students will master the material on which they will be tested and probably much more.”
Rebuttal Debater 2 Ashley According to the U.S. National Research Council, standardized tests are useless. The council stated, “Despite using them for several decades, policy makers and educators do not yet know how to use test-based incentives to consistently generate positive effects on achievement and to improve education.” Plus, according to author Peter Sacks, the U.S. has an “unhealthy and enduring obsession with standardized testing.” He says, “Americans have grown so accustomed to filling in the bubbles on standardized tests that people often don’t bother to question the tests’ legitimacy.”
Judge’s Comments This week’s winner is Henry. By going through such a long list of qualities, Ashley failed to provide a strong constructive argument. Moreover, Ashley took what the National Research Council said out of context. Although you should try to make your argument as convincing as possible, you should never misquote people.
(firstname.lastname@example.org) Chris Hong Copy Editor
1. According to Henry, what are some advantages of standardized tests?
2. According to Ashley, what are some disadvantages of standardized tests?
3. According to the judge, what was wrong with Ashley quoting the National Research Council?
1. Do you think standardized testing is a good practice? Why?
2. What was the worst test you ever took?
3. What is the best way to study for an exam?