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The student voice of Detroit's High Schools.

JORDAN: Are standardized tests a good measure of intelligence, ability?

Are standardized tests really a good measurement of a student’s intelligence or ability?

“I think they can be a good measure for entrance into college as all student use the same test, but not for intelligence and ability,” said Helene Barton, a teacher at Benjamin Carson High School. “For example, the SAT test does not have a section for science nor social studies, the questions are blended into the ELA and math sections. Other tests like illuminate might be better for intelligence or ability, but the questions are not set up to measure that, they are focused on science or social studies.”

Children in grades third through eighth are required to test annually in reading and math. Children who are in grades 10th through 12th take the test once. Students must also be tested in science in at least one grade in elementary, middle and high school. But everyone can’t meet the standardized test standards. Some students might have a medical issue that prevents them from testing well. And some students have test-taking anxiety. 

"Standardized tests aren’t a good measure of intelligence and ability, because I believe it isn’t a good representation of how well you do on a subject," BCHS senior Sumina Tasnim said. 

Standardized testing puts children in a situation that could cause stress. Testing could put so much on a person that they would say things like “I’m dropping out.” Or “I’m giving up.” It shouldn’t be that way; children shouldn’t want to drop out or give up over a test.

"Sometimes it's so hard to see the end, because you're constantly overthinking it," BCHS senior Ernest Mcclenney said.

Additionally, research shows some tests show bias. According to Institute for Policy Studies contributor Dr. Jill Richardson, a sociologist, tests are biased.

In a piece written for, Richardson writes, “... studies show that students whose parents have more education and/or higher incomes do better on the tests" and whites and Asians score better than African Americans and Latinos. Richardson cites Brookings research that reports this is unlikely to be "explained away by class differences across race."


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