Students these days have problems with the frequent exams and the stress of having to go to prestigious universities. The education in Korea today seems to be centered on the exams required two times every semester. These standardized tests are means for teachers to assess their students on whether they have faithfully participated in the given curriculum. However there is a dispute over the meaningfulness of these standardized exams themselves. Some believe that choosing from a given set of choices, is not that effective for being used as an assessment.
|[Photo courtesy Korea herald, Students getting ready to take a standardized exam, http://res.heraldm.com/content/image/2012/11/08/20121108000741_0.jpg]
The advocates of the standardized tests state that this is the most effective method to evaluate every student in the fairest way possible. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner. They believe that this method will not allow the bias or prejudice of the teachers to affect the process itself. It is also faster and less burdensome than other methods of evaluation according to the advocates of standardized tests. This evaluation system has existed for more than 50 years and has been the most ubiquitous type of test in the world. The reason it has been able to exist for so long was because it provided a complete evaluation of students from an impartial perspective. It is a system that looks at every child through equal eyes. It also allows educators to compare scores of students within the same school and across schools. This information provides data on not only the individual student's abilities but also on the school as a whole. Areas of school-wide weaknesses and strengths are more easily identifiable. Because of the given benefits of this method, it is quite popular.
|[Photo of me looking at my standardized test result]
On the other hand, some people believe that these standardized tests do not benefit but actually harm the students who take it at a regular interval. Students who are aware of patterns can determine the nuance of the test and will only study in that way. This kind of predictability renders the method to be rather ineffective in the exact evaluation of the students. Standardized tests may allow for a direct comparison of the academic scores, but they do not account for differences in the students who are taking the tests. In all countries, whatever the curriculum is, standardized tests could be considered discriminatory in some regions because they assume that the student is a first-language English speaker. Students who have special needs, learning disabilities, or other challenges may also be at a disadvantage when taking a standardized test compared to those who do not have those concerns. So to wrap it up, standardized testing can be unfair in numerous unforeseeable circumstances. To obtain the opinion of a person familiar with this topic, I interviewed my mother’s acquaintance, a high school math teacher.
Q: What is your opinion on standardized testing?
A: Through my long experience as a school teacher, standardized testing has aided teachers in the act of evaluating students. It provides a way for students to show what they have learn in the fairest and fastest way possible.
Q: Then what do you think about the new methods of assessment appearing in Finland and other European countries?
A: Of course trying to innovate the method of testing is praise worthy. However in the case of today, standardized testing is the most effective in my perspective. ◀
Whatever the case may be, in the 21th century, standardized testing seems to the best possible option of assessing student’s abilities.
Yeoksam middle school
Andrew Sung firstname.lastname@example.org
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