In a world filled with billions of people, it is pretty safe to say that no two individuals have completely identical experiences. Despite many similarities that may occur, there are still a wide variety of factors that contribute to shaping an individual’s worldview, personality, and opinions. In light of that fact, there has been a considerable amount of criticism regarding the use of standardized tests in the public education system in America.
Although there are certainly advantages to standardized testing, including the notion that everyone has an equal opportunity to study for and perform well on these tests, the reality is that inequalities do exist, regardless of the uniformity of the actual exams and scoring.
The problem with standardized tests is that they do not take into consideration a number of crucial factors that undoubtedly influence a student’s performance. While many school administrators and standardized test supporters feel that every student has an equal opportunity to do well on these tests, many critics have noted that the language used in the phrasing of standardized test questions can often times be preferential to one socio-economic class over another. For example, critics have brought to the attention of standardized testing committees the fact that the use of specialized jargon or words like “verandah” may be more commonly used in certain socio-economic classes, particularly the higher income classes. In other words, while students whose parents yield from higher socio-economic classes may have frequently heard (and maybe even used) the word “verandah” throughout their lives (whether in reference to their own homes or the homes of friends, family members, and acquaintances), a student from a lower socio-economic class may have never encountered this word in daily use.
Some people argue that the fact that a student has not been exposed to specialized vocabulary words is no excuse for poor performance on, say, the verbal portion of a standardized test, and that students still maintain an equal opportunity to motivate themselves to study these words outside of the classroom if they wish to succeed on their exams and expand their vocabularies. However, this theory also fails to consider the notion that students from lower socioeconomic classes often bare responsibilities that students from higher socioeconomic classes may not have. For example, if a student is required to work a part time job in order to contribute to his or her family’s income, then it is unjust to expect them to spend a considerable amount of time reviewing vocabulary outside of what is taught in the classroom. Furthermore, what they are actually being taught in the classroom also varies greatly depending on socioeconomic class. Students whose parents have surplus income can often afford to send their children to the best schools, public or private, while parents from lower classes are simply not afforded that luxury. As a result, students from lower classes are often enrolled in public schools that lack the resources necessary to higher adequate teachers and provide the supplies or technology that children from higher classes have to their advantage.
In conclusion, it appears that although we would all like to imagine our society as a place where equality prevails and everyone has an opportunity to succeed, the reality is that sometimes, that just is not the case. Standardized tests do not take into account some of the social injustices that are still prevalent in our society today. Every one is unique, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and to judge everyone by the same ruler is simply propagating these injustices.