The Future of Standardized Testing in a Post-COVID Landscape

October 7, 2021

The issue of whether or not standardized tests should be a way in which the knowledge of high school students is evaluated has been one of the hottest debates in education in recent years. Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are currently taken by most students in American high schools as a way to compare them to other students in the college application process. There are a number of perspectives surrounding this issue, however one thing is clear: typical standardized tests for high schoolers are more than likely going to be altered in some way in upcoming years. 

One of the most common views on how standardized testing should move forward in the post-covid era is to abandon it altogether. Surprisingly, more colleges are on board with this idea than expected, especially following the pandemic. Currently in the United States, 65% of four-year universities have gone test optional in their application process. This essentially means that students applying to these schools can choose whether or not to submit their SAT or ACT scores. Test optional colleges value the four years of hard work that high school students complete over the four hour test they take, when evaluating one’s merit. According to most schools, if students choose to not submit these scores, it will not affect how they are considered in the application process. Instead, these colleges put more emphasis on students’ transcripts, essays, and extracurriculars. 

The reason for this sudden shift towards abandoning standardized tests and test optional schools emerging throughout the country? Most of it has to do with the effects of the Coronavirus. These schools have realized how the pandemic has affected students’ ability to learn and gain access to resources to help them prepare for these tests. Additionally, with all of the test cancellations in 2020 and 2021, many high schoolers have not been able to take these tests at all. Effects such as these from the pandemic have induced many respected universities to end their application requirements to submit test scores. Furthermore, most of these schools have suspended their testing requirements for two to three years into the future, acknowledging the extended impact of the pandemic and that these test scores might not be the best way to evaluate the merit of a student.

While many seek to completely abandon standardized testing from the college admissions process, others argue that these tests simply need to be reformed. The National Education Association believes that to better fit students’ learning needs and to assess a wider range of learning skills, they need to shift in the direction of more skill-based assessments. They argue that standardized assessments need to test the skills of creativity, leadership, critical thinking, and collaboration, as opposed to the limited reading, writing, and math skills currently tested. 

As most of our nation’s schools shift back to in-person experiences, some suggest that a new form of standardized tests should emerge that fit more personally to an individual school’s curriculum. Educators from Future-Ed argue that starting this fall, standardized tests should become a combination of short, 30 minute assessments testing a wider variety of skills to ease the pressure off of students returning to school after quarantine.

Although there are a number of opinions on how standardized tests should move forward in the post-Covid era, it is very clear that change is in the future. The traditional process of high school students taking the SAT and ACT to submit to colleges, will most likely come to an end. The greater public has spoken and their message is clear: our standardized tests need to change.

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