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Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress?


This question has no objective answer. It is the most debated topic because of the growing competition in various fields of education. The standardized tests have become a validating certificate for the students to pursue their future dreams. These tests are combination of quantitative, verbal, etc sections on which certain amount of questions are asked. Depending on the nature of the field, these questions are framed to check one's ability. But unfortunately only few who gets to clear these tests and move further. Not all students are lucky at gene-pool time. In spite of their hard work and determination, some will find it difficult to deal with it.

Recent thinking among many leading educators suggests that there are various forms of Intelligence. Even a student with less aptitude skill, possess higher "Interpersonal" or "Intrapersonal" skills. But these skills are not tested by the standardized test. This in turn results in failing or average marks in standardized tests, sometimes leading to depression, wastage of year, lack of confidence. According to education researcher Gregory J. Cizek, anecdotes abound "illustrating how testing... produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both." Considering the changes over time, these tests need to be improvised in order to attain higher measure of academic ability or progress. Improvisation will bring in an ocean of opportunities for students to excel in their interests. Till date, students were trying to excel in a test which was of least interest to them. Few changes might make a room for other students. If these tests are designed as per the uniqueness of the students then it might open doors of success to many students who were previously trying to fit in. A digit should not be a deciding factor for a student's future.

As all the fingers of hands are not same, the same applies to human nature, intelligence and caliber. Some framed set of questions chained out of a limited view perspective, sometimes cannot measure the progress or ability of an individual. According to late education researcher Gerald W. Bracey, PhD, qualities that standardized tests cannot measure include "creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, civic-mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty, integrity." The only motive behind such exams should be to enhance the quality of knowledge of an individual, to allow showcasing their abilities which they are best at. Best example can be mentioned here is of Physicist Albert Einstein. He was a poor student and some teachers thought he might be mentally retarded. Once considered as "Mentally Retarded", out-shined as a person who mastered Calculus. Current standardized tests, for example: If a student wishes to go for engineering, he/she has to give entrance exams but such exams are common for all branches. If such scenario is changed and as per the course chosen by the student, question are framed then many students might clear the entrance exam and get admission for their desired course. Therefore, some set of questions cannot define one's ability or progress. It can be measured by the depth of knowledge and the uniqueness of an individual.

RUTUJA D. RATHOD