Imagine this: A high schooler comes home from school, exhausted from a full day of class and extracurricular activities, suddenly a parent begins to relentlessly question them about their PSAT preparation, and where they want to attend college. After this conversation, the student silently shuts the door to their room and begins to cry; all of the pressure and expectations that they face daily are suddenly pouring out in the form of tears.
As a teenager myself, I can fully understand the intense pressure and scrutiny that so many young adolescents are under when it comes to succeeding in school and in testing. Currently, standardized testing has become extremely prevalent across the nation, with virtually all 4-year colleges requiring the submission of one’s SAT or ACT scores. Although standardized testing provides a consistent, baseline way to compare applicants, it does not acknowledge them as a whole person. As stated by Grade Power Learning, “It (standardized testing) evaluates students’ performance without considering external factors. Standardized tests do not consider factors like test anxiety, home life, or the fact that some kids are extremely bright but do not test well.”
Many determinants can influence children’s scores on tests like the PSAT, SAT, SSAT, and ACT. Another factor that one must take into account when assessing the productivity and reliability of standardized testing is the socioeconomic status of families. According to a 2012 study from the University of Minnesota, “Students from higher-income backgrounds generally achieve higher scores, and 21.2% of variance in SAT scores is shared with socioeconomic status, as measured here as a composite of mother’s education, father’s education, and parental income.” To rephrase, higher-income families can afford tutors, practice tests, and more resources for their children, whereas a lower-income family may not have those same opportunities. Therefore, it is unfair to base a student’s acceptance to college solely on test scores because of the socioeconomic influence on performance.
Growing up in a society where standardized testing takes a huge part in dictating one’s future is stressful. This is part of an overall set of high expectations that students go to a “good” college and excel once they are there. Information collected by The Higher Education Research concluded that 41% of first-year college students taking part in the study were overwhelmed by what was expected of them, by professors, parents, etc. According to Psych Central, these overwhelming feelings can quickly manifest into anxiety and depression. In conclusion, a society full of high expectations when it comes to testing is a critical part of why adolescents today are more anxious and depressed than that of past generations.
Lauren is a freshman at The Westminister Schools, Atlanta, GA, where she is president of the Freshman class. She looks forward to a role as a reporter who can cover and report on various events that will be of interest to youth. This series of columns highlight real-life issues and concerns from the perspective of an adolescent.