Since affected by the demographic factors, which cannot

Since the enforcement of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, schools are held accountable for the academic achievement of their students. Schools are obliged to provide students with annual reading and math assessments throughout Grade Three to Eight, and once in high school. (Klein) The test results are used as the determinant of educational quality, and schools with results unable to reach proficiency are required to set adequate yearly progress (AYP) for improvement. If a school continuously fails to meet the AYP, students are allowed to transfer to other schools; in the worst case, the school is closed. (Klein) In other words, the survival of a school is determined by their student achievement in standardized tests, and thus schools emphasize their education on preparing students for the standardized tests. According to Robert J. Marzano and Arthur L. Costa, however, standardized tests only measure a student’s factual and declarative knowledge instead of critical thinking skills. (Marzano) In addition, a study has discovered that standardized test outcomes can be affected by the demographic factors, which cannot reflect a student’s knowledge. (Tienken) Therefore, standardized testing is not fully effective when reflecting student aptitude. One of the most widely used standardized tests is the SAT, which assesses the college-readiness of a student by their proficiency in Language Arts and Mathematics. According to Robert J. Marzano and Professor Arthur L. Costa, “Standardized tests in their present form are primarily measures of factual or declarative information.” (Marzano) Marzano and Professor Costa believe that standardized tests are ineffective in measuring students’ thinking abilities, but rather how they can express their factual knowledge in test items. An SAT Reasoning Test consists of two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math; the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section is further divided into the Reading test and Writing and Language Test, in which the students mostly answer the questions based on the context of the passages among the four limited options, not allowing them to think outside the box. In addition, the Math section also focuses on the results rather than the process. Similar to the Reading and Writing section, the Math section mostly provides multiple-choice answers, with only 13 of the 58 Math questions are grid-in (“SAT Sections.”), but only the final answers can appear on the answer sheet. Even if an optional essay is included in the test, it mostly reflects the students’ writing ability rather than their cognitive learning because they are only asked to write an explanation of how an author builds a persuasive argument based on the given passage, but doesn’t assess how a student builds his/her own persuasive argument. In conclusion, standardized tests like the SAT only evaluate a student’s test-taking skills, instead of their critical thinking skills. Performance gaps in standardized tests are obvious between students of different races, in which White and Asian students score higher than their black and Hispanic counterparts in the SAT (Reeves). According to the Brooking Institution, Asian students have the highest average scores in SAT Math, with a score of 598, and the average score for whites is 534, while blacks obtained an average score of 428 and Latinos scored 457 on average. As the mean score of SAT Math is 511 out of 800, this implies that Asians and whites performed above average, but blacks and Latinos couldn’t perform as well as their Asian and white counterparts. Although Asian only contribute to 14 percent of the test-takers, they produce most of the top scorers with 60 percent; while 21 percent of the test-takers are Latino, only 5 percent of them are top scorers. Hence, it is less likely for black or Latino students to enter colleges based on the aforementioned data as their standardized test scores might not meet the entrance requirements. Moreover, SAT results are predicted based on the information that the test-taker filled on the answer sheet, including race, which can lead to bias in predicting SAT results because of the data provided from previous years. Median family income also contributes to the prediction of SAT results, in which black and Latino household receive lower median wealth than those of white and Asian. According to the Forbes, black and Latino households could receive zero median family income by the mid-century. (Sherman) Due to the comparatively lower median family wealth in black and Latino families, bias towards these races is presented in SAT result predictions. This affects the effectiveness of standardized tests as a measuring tool for student achievement as it is influenced by the demographic factors rather than how well the students perform on the tests. Not only is performance gap presented among students of different races, but also between genders, which raises questions at the effectiveness of standardized tests as a systematic way to measure student achievement.  F. Kemal Kizilca, Ph.D, who works at the Department of Economics of the Ankara University, suggests that standardized testing generates a bias against female students due to its incompetence in measuring student aptitudes that are advantageous to female students. (KIZILCA) In his study, he uses the SAT score as his main focus to investigate and prove his claim that a gender bias towards female occurs in standardized tests. The New York State Education Department was sued by Khadijah Sharif et al. in 1989 because they believed that the Department’s only reliance on SAT scores as a means of granting scholarships was an act of discrimination against female applicants, as the performance gap in the SAT scores between the genders were regularly higher than the gap exists in high school GPAs, in which female students tends to score higher in their high school GPAs than in the SAT, and hence is incapable of accurately reflecting female students’ aptitudes. (KIZILCA) Moreover, except for the optional essay section, all SAT questions are in multiple-choice, which is one of the main reasons that leads to female students’ disadvantages in standardized tests, as they are scored higher in essay-writing and constructed response exams than multiple-choice tests. (Williams et al., 1992; Gamer and Engelhard, 1999) In conclusion, standardized tests cannot be the effective measurement of student achievement due to the distinction shown in reflecting the true aptitudes of male and female students.Despite its ability to measure student aptitude and existing bias between races and genders, standardized tests provides a certain degree of information that reveals the reading level of the students. Many student-athletes in colleges still read at an elementary school level with scores lower than 300 on the SAT critical reading section, which is too low for college-level courses. (Ganim) Yet, these student-athletes are not affected by their standardized test results because they are able to enter colleges with only their potential contributions to the college athletics. If standardized test results of student-athletes are ineffective to their chance of entering colleges, then standardized tests seem to lose their purpose in measuring student achievement in academics. Furthermore, with the test performance gap generated by bias against genders and races, standardized testing isn’t the best tool to measure student achievement. Therefore, high school GPAs should be better representation of student achievement (Tienken), as they reflect a student’s aptitude and performance in school that cannot be reflected on any standardized tests.


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