Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why Standardized Test Is Essential

The fact that many countries use standardized test as the final evaluation has enraged many students across the globe. One of them is an American student, Suli Breaks, who questioned, “why unique individuals tested by the same means?” Similar remark came from an Indonesian student, Nurmillaty Abadiah, who wrote an open letter criticizing the 2013 difficult national exam. Nevertheless, there is indeed a reason why the US’ best universities require standardized tests along with GPA results and why national exam is used in Indonesia for applying to higher educational institutions. Standardized testing is ultimately important because it holds schools accountable, guides teachers to determine their teaching procedure, and is the most objective academic assessment.

To ensure all schools’ accomplishments are as what the government expects, a standardized test is needed to assess schools’ accountability across the country. In Indonesia, every high school has the same curriculum, but each has different standard on measuring the GPA of a student. With a standardized test, which is the national exam, the government can evaluate each school’s performance with equal method. Consequently, the national exam results from year to year have shown that prestigious high schools, although some of them only give small GPA, score better than unpopular high schools. Rural schools are also known for scoring very low at national exam. Therefore, the government will know which schools fail to accomplish what the curriculum expects, and it can allocate appropriate educational aids to these schools.

Standardized testing gives teachers guidance to help them determine what to teach students and when to teach it. Indonesian teachers are able to arrange a schedule and deadline to finish national exam’s curriculum effectively. They will also give attention to subject chapters that are covered in the national exam more intensively. Some creative teachers also invent fast formulas to solve particular problems that are absolutely helpful. In addition, when the students’ results of national exam are bad, teachers are the responsible ones. They will introspect why their students score badly, and they eventually will fix themselves to be better teachers in the future.

Some students believe that standardized testing is very unjust because it merely evaluates student’s progress for years just in a one day-test. Some also believe that most students cheat in the test. However, these remarks actually contradict the truth that standardized testing is perhaps the only available objective assessment. Take Indonesia’s university admission as an example. The “SNMPTN” admission route, which selects students based on their high school GPA, is indeed unfair because universities are very biased. They only favor particular schools. As a result, unpopular schools, usually are located in rural areas, do not have the chance to enter their students’ dreamed universities by “SNMPTN” route. Conversely, with an equal university entrance exam, known as the “SBMPTN”, all high school students are seen equally based on the test results, no matter from which school they are. In addition, who can guarantee that GPA results are not cheated? There are many examples of transactions between a student and a teacher to increase the student’s score.

To summarize, despite the disagreement over standardized testing, it is evident that standardized test is very important. Standardized test is not merely used for a student’s assessment; it is used to evaluate the country’s education to decide further movements by the government to improve the country’s education. It is crucial for every student to receive fundamental education and to be assessed by the test regardless of how good or bad students will score the test,. I wish that students would let the ‘standardized test’-phobia away because as what Suli Breaks said, test results are not the only factor for a great future.

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