Are standardized tests really standard?

Will Clark, Editor-in-Cheif

Standardized tests, the arch nemesis of any high school student. The purpose of these tests is to provide a way in which students and schools can be compared equitably across the country. An emphasis should be placed on the word equitable, for these tests are meant to place every single student nationwide on an even playing field. While in theory, the field is level, many students, or rather their parents, have found a way to tilt the field in their favor.

The ACT or SAT is, without a doubt, the most significant standardized test that faces high school students. The score from either one of these tests is pivotal to college acceptance. College admissions offices weigh this test so heavily because it supposedly tests all students equally; however, over the years, the circumstances of this test have become less and less equal. A faction of students, especially here in affluent Orange County, have access to expensive, private tutoring that improves students’ scores. I am among the privileged who have access to such tutoring. Private tutoring has become an industry that attracts only the affluent. Costing up to thousands of dollars, these tutoring services have developed a systematic approach to standardized tests that makes them significantly easier to understand and excel at. The invaluable lessons learned from these tutoring services greatly benefits those that can afford their hefty price.

While students from affluent families are given the necessary tools to excel on standardized tests, what happens to those students who come from families of lower income? These students are left to prepare on their own with little to no outside help or prior knowledge of standardized tests. Without access to expert tutors, these less fortunate students are left at a significant disadvantage to their more affluent peers. Yes, some exceptionally bright students, regardless of socioeconomic status, will always ace these tests despite a lack of tutor assistance, but the vast majority are left to fend for themselves.

If standardized tests are truly meant to be standard, then test providers should figure out a way to negate the advantage of a tutored student; if this were to prove impossible, then colleges should begin to weigh the importance of tests such as the ACT or SAT less. Without truly standardized tests, a significant percentage of the student population will continue to be left behind due to the lower income of their families. This is an injustice to our educational system that needs to be revised.