Students paid to take SATs, ACTs: Recent scandal suggests system imperfections

Standardized tests were the bane of our high school existence, but that’s over.  Right? I mean, we are done with our state tests and our SATs. Think again, fellow students. Many of us will still face the Praxis, the GRE’s, the LSAT’s  and so on.

Cheating on tests is not a new story; we’ve been hearing about it for years. Students become too stressed with so much pressure placed on testing.

This time, a group of high school students from Long Island allegedly paid college students to take their tests. From top high schools, 20 students have been arrested for participating in testing fraud.

Education scandals seem to be exploding right now. Though the amount of sex related scandals are overwhelming to say the least, testing scandals also take an enormous toll on the stress levels of students.

“The Long Island testing scandal reflects the extent to which high school students across the country are responding to what their teachers and colleges are telling them will bring success,” said Nicolaus Mills in his article for CNN Opinions. “They are acting on the premise that in the race to gain admission to the nation’s most prestigious schools, getting a high score on the ACT or College Board tests is the equivalent of winning the lottery.”

As current college students, we grew up with the advent of “No Child Left Behind.” Standardized tests grew up with us, and we experienced the growing pains.

The goal of standardized tests is admirable. There may not be an effective way to judge a large group of students. There has to be a form of assessment to make sure that education is doing its job.

What’s the problem with standardized testing, then? Well for one thing, they have changed the face of education forever. Teaching is oriented around the test, not learning. We practice how to take tests and learn the specific areas that we know that the tests are going to cover.

Teachers don’t have a choice but to play the game either as schools get funding cuts if their scores are not high enough. Education funding is being cut every year even for the schools with good scores. Is cutting resources to schools that are struggling logical? Not really, but standardized testing is pushing our education system towards that end.

Abilities that are not tested are often discredited. Art and sports funding is also cut when compared to testable subjects. Not only that, but specialized classes like shop, music, family and consumer science and even languages risk budget or staffing cuts.

There are also the students who are just bad test takers. Testing is a stressful situation and some people just blank. Whether it’s the pressure or the time they take, these tests are not easy for everyone. Students with educational disabilities have even more difficulty.

These tests define what colleges we get into more than anything else we do. Students with lower class grades or less AP classes that do better on tests can get better scholarships. They even control whether we graduate high school, or at least that’s what we are told. The tyranny doesn’t end after high school. Standardized tests are taking over.

 

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