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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Look Both Ways: Standardized testing

Lucy Atkinson
An exam paper and six floating question marks rest under the word “Look Both Ways” and the topic of the week: standardized testing. Should standardized testing be eliminated or embraced? (Lucy Atkinson | Northern Star)


By: Santiago Montañez Bertoletti, Opinion Columnist

In the U.S., 80% of colleges don’t require SAT or ACT scores for admission, including NIU, but standardized tests should be eliminated entirely. 

Standardized tests partially eliminate several aspects of students and only seek to assign a number according to limited characteristics. 

All of us have had to take an exam at one point or another: either multiple-choice or open-ended, math or grammar. It is part of school life and academia in general. However, some governments — especially in the West — impose these tests as mandatory, regardless of their multifaceted personality. In Illinois, all public school students must take the SAT to graduate with a regular diploma, according to

Each country typically handles a series of standardized tests that all students must take prior to graduation. In the U.S. there are the ACT and the SAT, in Colombia the SABER, in Mexico the PLANEA and in many other countries across America and Europe. 

There are also international tests, such as the PISA test, that measure average results between countries, so governments can know what policies, laws and actions they can take to improve national education.

Obviously, there are certain topics that are basic, used by nearly all professions and that all people should have a basic knowledge of: mathematics, language, geography and history. 

But it’s hardly useful for a medicinal doctor to know that Kublai Khan tried twice to invade Japan without success. It’s not helpful for an engineer to know the Hundred Years’ War actually lasted 116 years and faced not only English and French but also German, Dutch and Italian mercenaries. It won’t benefit a novelist to know that the Law of Sines states each side of a triangle has an equality if it is divided between the sine of the opposite angle.

Standardized tests turn a student into a number, evaluating them unfairly about things they will have to spend time on only if they want to get a good score, either because they are required to do so by a school district or for some other reason. All a student will truly gain from taking standardized tests will be lost time.


By: Will Thiel, Opinion Columnist

Standardized tests are used to measure student academic aptitude and achievement. It’s an OK system here in the United States, and it’s poised to remain so for the future.

By definition, these tests provide an objective measure of student performance, fostering accountability and guiding educational improvement. They promote equity by establishing common benchmarks for all students, regardless of background.

While it may seem unfair for students to be ruled out of colleges or opportunities based on a test score, there are different measurements to decide a student’s eligibility. Notably professional recommendations, networking skills and extracurricular activities are also generally considered by universities in the admissions process.

Moreover, should the U.S. or other Western nations discard the current system in favor of a new one, it would mean a complete overhaul of everything defined as testing.

Instead of changing the testing methods for our students, our focus should be on reforming the governing bodies that oversee these examinations. 

Students who lack the resources to study or achieve low marks due to the disadvantaged conditions they have endured should not be subject to the worst of Chicago Public Schools in Illinois.

These students are enrolled in the lowest-performing 10% of Chicago’s elementary and high schools, which are not providing them with the necessary preparation for future success. A number of these students do not possess fundamental skills in reading, science and mathematics. It’s no wonder they do not perform well on standardized tests.

Teacher shortages, unequal school funding and mental health issues are the real issues in America.

Standardized testing is not the problem, so let’s focus on bigger problems.

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