Standardized Tests are Institutionalized Classism and Racism

Standardized Tests are Institutionalized Classism and Racism

Emma Huggins, Staff Writer

Every year there is more dialogue pushing the idea that we, as students, are not defined by a number. Colleges will boast of their newly adopted test optionality while teachers adopt project-based initiatives to expand learning accessibility. Yet American students seem to be partaking in more standardized tests each year. According to the Washington Post, the average American student takes 112 standardized tests between Kindergarten and 12th grade.

Not only do these dialogues seem to fall short of any sort of action, but they also seem to lack a vital reason for why standardized testing should not hold the weight that it does. That being sID– the direct negative correlation between economic status and test score. What can account for this? It’s a complex issue with many factors but put simply, it can be broken down into access to test preparation, test content, and educational inequity among demographics.

High-income families and parents are often very willing to pay whatever means necessary to give their children an advantage. This means private tutors, college counselors, practice tests, and extra courses to get a leg up in the monopolized world of testing. There is no need to explain the tangible relationship between race in wealth in this country, the consequences of which testing is not exempt from. Black and Latinx students statistically show a disadvantage in testing. The gap between black and white students’ test scores specifically has shown a consistent inequity with a nearly unchanged .9 standard deviations over the last 15 years. 

Test content may look like an undoubted factor to a privileged eye, but much of standardized testing includes questions that present a clear disadvantage to those with differing backgrounds.  

So why are we still taking standardized tests? The answer is simple: Money. The CollegeBoard collected over $1 billion in revenue from the SATs and AP exams in 2019. This so-called “non-profit” is capitalizing off of inequities in the education system and has no shame in doing so.