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    An Examination of Standardized Testing of Students in Ontario

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    It was recently proposed that Ontario should institute compulsory, standardized tests for all students in Grade 12. The best way to analyze this idea is to look at other cases of standardized testing. In the United States, all seniors are subjected to a rigorous set of standardized tests called the SATs. In Ontario, we administer the EQAO in Grades 3, 6, and 9, and the Literacy Test in Grade 10. Standardized testing has a detrimental effect on education due to issues of irrelevance, discrimination, and inaccurate scoring.

    Standardized testing is rarely an effective measure of a student’s academic ability or intelligence, and never the best measure. The rigid parameters of the tests make them standardized and simple to mark. However, this also severely limits the student’s ability to show their learning. These tests only measure a student’s competence with following instructions and superficial reasoning. These tests do not examine critical, coherent, or creative thinking—all of which are fundamental to success. Multiple choice is a trifle of an evaluation. Full responses are not even properly analyzed. The timed essay, a common component of the standardized test, does not exemplify the true practice of writing. Particularly, there is no editorial process by which a student would learn how to improve their work. After all, writing is rewriting.

    Perhaps the biggest criticism for standardized tests is that they discriminate. Vocabulary and word correlation questions on these tests have a strong tendency to make reference to aspects of an affluent lifestyle. Take, for example, this type of question: Zoology is to animals as …? The answer, out of four choices, is botany is to plants, making a fairly straightforward problem. Now, take an infamous example of discrimination, pulled from an SAT exam from the 80s: Oarsman is to regatta as…? Rowing crew is a notoriously upper-class, white American pastime. This question shuts out certain students, often racial minorities, immigrants, and students from working class backgrounds. How would these students have even heard of a regatta? How would they know that it is a prestigious boat race, often held by a country club?

    Furthermore, less privileged schools do not have the resources to prepare students for a standardized test. Test preparation involves intensive prep classes, books, teaching CDs and DVDs, and practice tests, adding up to a budget that some schools cannot afford. Preparation makes a big difference on tests. Test scores at schools that cannot afford the extra help will be low, and the school will lose even more funding. Meanwhile, in affluent neighbourhoods, students will load up with c-notes (Cliff’s Notes) and personalized test coaching. Test scores here will be high, and the school will further rise in status. Standardized testing demonstrates and aggravates the inequalities of the education system.

    My last bone to pick with standardized testing is the often overlooked chance of inaccurate scoring. Errors in scoring of standardized tests occur especially often compared to tests marked by the teacher of the class. The NYC Board of Education once sent 9 000 students to remedial summer school based on scoring errors on standardized tests [].

    In the Washington Assessment of Student Learning [Seattle Times, Aug 28, 2000], temporary markers were paid only $10 an hour to mark standardized tests. Scorers have admitted numerous times, in interviews, to grading papers without even reading them. One scorer from National Computer Systems said that his supervisors ordered them repeatedly to “pick up the rate” and “Don’t pay as much attention to accuracy.” Furthermore, one company offered a $200 bonus that kicked in after eight thousand papers. What a great incentive to rush your grading.

    Dr. Carlo Ricci of the Nippissing University Education Department wrote an exposé on Ontario’s standardized testing office, EQAO. In “Breaking the Silence,” he described his stint marking the Ontario Literacy Test (OSSLT). He describes the marking rooms as harshly lit and dank. Students were required to write a three-paragraph opinion piece. At the end of the first marking week, he was told that if the student simply repeated the question posed, it did not count as one of the three required paragraphs. After an entire week of hundreds of people marking thousands of tests, the criteria were changed. Ricci was seriously concerned about consistency in the grading. If the EQAO was not happy with the marks, they would send booklets back to be remarked until they got a desired median.

    Clearly, standardized tests are not the universal indicators we thought they were. Students are unable to show their knowledge on rigid, 81⁄2″ by 11″ sheets. Like gruel for the mind, the tests encourage compliance and guessing rather than learning. They inevitably discriminate against helpless demographics. Then the tests are shipped off to sweatshop-like marking facilities, where they are assigned unfair and often arbitrary grades. Standardized tests are not a step in the right direction if this province wants to, heaven forbid, improve its education system.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    An Examination of Standardized Testing of Students in Ontario. (2022, Dec 14). Retrieved from

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