Standardized tests, also called aptitude tests, are our only current way of qualifying a high school student’s general aptitude spanning several subject disciplines, but they need to be abolished in favor of another system of testing. The fact remains that standardized tests are among the last bastion of truly racist systems that cause a further divide between classes and races in modern America, only this time at the secondary school level. With slavery abolished, internment camps outlawed, pseudo-laws like Jim Crow and systems of discrimination in housing, employment, and educated deemed unconstitutional, there is no reason that standardized testing should continue on in our public schools. It is a racist construct dressed up as quantitative study; a figurative wolf in sheep’s clothing that can no longer be ignored for the sake of young Americans hoping to work hard, study hard, and achieve their version of the American dream.
Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, for example, are created in conjunction with a school’s curriculum, or so they are ideally. The problem comes when we consider the school curriculum. The tests are designed so that students need not necessarily study for them (practice is encouraged, but no “studying” is necessary) because the curriculum at their school is made to support the concepts tested on these examinations. This works very well for the better school districts in the country. In fact, students that study at these accomplished public schools in these prosperous districts often report that the SAT or ACT or PSAT was actually a welcome reprieve from their grueling Honors and AP classes. The material tested there might have been something these students learned the previous year and mastered. For example, the most advanced mathematical concept on the PSAT is geometry. Most of the students in these better public schools that take the PSAT are studying Pre-Calculus or Calculus in the year that they take this test.
The problem arises when we look at the impoverished inner-city districts where attendance and resources are both problems. These students do not have a curriculum as rigorous as other schools and are thereby not as well prepared to take these exams as their counterparts in suburban schools. Statistically speaking, most students in inner-city school systems are minorities, and most students in the suburban school system are white or Asian. The suburban students who attend schools with challenging curriculums are also able to take preparatory classes like those offered by Sylvan Learning Centers or Kaplan Test Prep in order to boost their scores on test day. The students that most need this supplementary help, those students in the inner-city, are unable to attend these classes due to a lack of resources.
Colleges look at these SAT, ACT, and PSAT scores when they determine admission eligibility. Those students with good scores are admitted and those who scored poorly are not. In this way, the minority students in the inner-city are weeded out based on their test scores. This is not to say that the children attending classes in the better districts are somehow unworthy of admission; that is not true at all. It is simply that the system constructed is currently unfair to minority students in the inner-city that lack resources and a good school system, and neither circumstance is the fault of these students directly yet they pay the price by not being accepted into (good) colleges and the statistics detailing earning potential and quality of life of high school graduates and college graduates are simply indisputable.
Because of this, standardized tests are seen to be the last bastion of racism in the American education system. The system of standardized testing needs either to be abolished or severely renovated in order to even out the playing field for American students.