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Editorial Contest 2023: The shortcomings of standardized tests

Returning to an editorial contest The Lansing Journal started last year, we partnered with the freshman class at Unity Christian Academy. Every first-year student wrote an editorial about something they care about, and submitted them to The Lansing Journal. Publisher Melanie Jongsma and Managing Editor Josh Bootsma read the editorials and picked three winners based on criteria including: making a claim, persuasion and analysis, evidence, local impact, and language and voice. Invitations to participate were also sent to TF South English faculty, and no editorials were submitted.

By Sarah Nwokoye
standardized test
Sarah Nwokoye is a freshman at Unity Christian Academy. (Photo provided)

How do you correctly measure a person’s intelligence and probability of success? Many colleges and universities think the answer is standardized testing, but how true is that?

The answer is that it’s not true at all.

Colleges and universities in Chicago should think of becoming test-optional, as standardized testing does not accurately determine how intelligent a student is, or their probability of success.

Standardized shortcomings

Standardized test scores are not predictors of future success. Standardized testing only tests for math and reading skills, which are not the only meaningful skills for college.

According to Elaine M. Allensworth, the Director of the University of Chicago Consortium and an author of a study regarding this topic, “Grade point averages (GPA) are a five times stronger indicator of college success than standardized tests. GPAs measure a very wide variety of skills and behaviors that are needed for success in college, where students will encounter widely varying content and expectations. In contrast, standardized tests measure only a small set of the skills that students need to succeed in college, and students can prepare for these tests in narrow ways that may not translate into better preparation to succeed in college.”

This tells us that standardized testing isn’t accurate as it doesn’t allow students to showcase all the skills they learn in school. It’s impossible to show a person’s potential if that person can’t show everything they can do.

Let’s put it in another perspective. Say a student is an absolute genius at art, making beautiful paintings with every stroke of their brush. They want to apply to a college yet they know that the tests don’t communicate the skills they have. When they finally take either the SAT/ACT, they don’t do well and get a low score. Now, many colleges are unwilling to accept them because of that score when they have so much potential for more, especially in their specialized areas.

Standardized tests only determine which students are good at taking tests.

To others, this may be a good thing. They may say that knowing which students are good at taking tests should be what helps their admission to colleges and universities. While this may be helpful, it still doesn’t accurately determine intelligence or probability of success.

Income factors

Taking tests is affected by too many factors to be a good method. Income is a good example of one of the many factors.

According to Penn Wharton the University of Pennsylvania, “Measures of student ability typically used for college admissions implicitly reflect differences in family income across students.”

Because every family’s income is different, some students will have an advantage over others. For example, a student has spectacular grades and is an overall exceptional student. The only thing wrong is that the student’s family is suffering financially and doesn’t have the money to afford the resources needed to give that student more opportunities for a better test score.

In both of the above examples, standardized testing would not accurately measure the student’s potential for success.


Read last year’s editorial contest winners:

The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journal publishes news releases from state, county, and local officials who provide information that impacts local community life. The particular contributor of each post is indicated in the byline.