Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Melissa Berninger

Second Advisor

Kelly Collinsworth

Third Advisor

Meghann Jarchow


Standardized Tests, Education, Diversity, STEM

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods | Science and Mathematics Education | Secondary Education


Standardized tests are ubiquitous in the American educational system. The excessive use of standardized tests has led to a decrease in taught content and has pushed teachers at the high school level to adopt less effective teaching styles that are also extremely common for introductory STEM courses at the undergraduate level. The heavy reliance on ACT and SAT scores for acceptance into college is misplaced, as the ACT/SAT are poor predictors of STEM college graduation. Also, underrepresented students (women, racial minorities, and lower socioeconomic groups) are disproportionately impacted by the heavy use of standardized tests. These students tend to score lower on the ACT/SAT, which makes it more difficult for them to get into higher education and may also make them feel unqualified to obtain a STEM degree. Therefore, adopting a more engaging style of teaching and dropping test requirements, both of which can increase diversity in STEM, could ameliorate the issues that arise from standardized tests and better prepare students for their next steps in STEM. An effective science education, one that focuses on student engagement, is more important than standardized test scores in providing all students with an equal opportunity to succeed.



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