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SAU Students Believe Reinstating Standardized Testing is a Step Backwards

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Taking the SAT in the spring of junior year is a rite of passage for high school students. Many students recall staying up all night studying before taking the test. They get to the school and the examiner passes out the paper. They look at the first question, but can’t remember anything that they studied last night. They are sure they are going to fail and be denied from all colleges. 

These are common fears many high school juniors face during the month of March.

For the past several years, schools like St. Ambrose have made the tests optional, arguing the tests don’t reflect a student’s potential like GPAs do. 

According to Vox, elite colleges are coming back to requiring students to submit their standardized testing scores. Dartmouth College, as well as other Ivy League schools, believe that the SAT and ACT scores are a key factor in determining the student’s success in college, not their GPA.

“If the goal is to widen participation in higher education, re-introducing standardized testing is a step backward,” SAU education professor, Dr. Angela Rekers explains. 

SAU freshman Allison Sottos disagrees with Dartmouth College. “They [the SAT and ACT] don’t get a good look at what students know. It depends on teachers and how they taught and what the curriculum from that specific school was. I think it’s better to look at GPAs rather than standardized tests.”

SAU sophomore Ryan Sander is a student who says his test score was not reflective of his academic success. “When I applied here at Ambrose, I only submitted my GPA because that was a higher and more accurate representation of my academic achievement.” 

Dr. Rekers says, “From the perspective of college admission, most research demonstrates that a student’s high school GPA is a good predictor of a student’s capabilities, rendering the standardized test not entirely necessary.” 

However, Vox reports that colleges use the test scores to try to find high-achieving, less-advantaged students. But critics say not every student has the same resources. 

“The standardized test is arguably skewed toward a particular demographic of student and student experience, like most standardized testing at any age,” Dr. Rekers adds. “For instance, from an economic perspective, students whose parents can afford to have tutoring, funds to retake the test, and so on have more opportunities to do better.”

It is a sentiment that is shared by other students as well as teachers. Not only is it an issue of resources, but many say it’s also an issue of test anxiety. 

SAU freshman Christina McMahon explains, “Classes spend different amounts of time on different subjects, so sometimes the standardized tests aren’t super fair. I personally don’t like standardized tests because it’s super stressful to prepare for them.”

SAU sophomore Gregory Gomez explains further, “Some students rely on these tests to get scholarships and admission into prestigious schools, but test anxiety is so high today, we know that the results we get are not as reflective of the student.”

Sander continues with the sentiment, “I personally think that standardized tests are neither good nor bad, they are simply a test… As for colleges requiring the test… if they take all the student’s abilities into account, then testing is a valuable variable, but solely relying on test scores is unfair to the students who struggle in testing situations.”

At St. Ambrose University, it is optional to submit test scores for general admittance. They are required for certain programs and certain academic scholarships. SAU Admissions says that there is no indication that SAU will be going back to requiring test scores, and if SAU did go back to requiring test scores, it would not be anytime in the near future.

Cora Schultz is a staff writer for The Buzz.