Does Standardized Testing Make Best High School Students Dumber?

11 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2016

Date Written: December 22, 2016


There is an ongoing heated debate about the usefulness of standardized testing in assessing students achievements. This paper presents new findings showing that both groups: critics and proponents of standardized testing are right. We show that standardized tests do a good job in determining which students have well developed problem solving and critical thinking skills, and which ones lack such skills. But within the group of highly skilled students standardized tests are harmful. Best students on average have worse standardized test scores. These conclusions are based on the results of a large experiment conducted among 4300 high school students in Kazakhstan. We compared student scores on standardized test used to determine which high school students are eligible for state grants financing university education, with the same students scores in specially designed test measuring such skills as problem solving, critical thinking and student IQ level. Then using a survey of a random sample of 182 students participating in the experiment we tested for other ways to determine student intellectual ability. We found that the number of books at home and the level of English as a foreign language are good predictors of student intellectual ability, which is consistent with findings in other countries. Therefore universities are advised to consider these characteristics during university entrance process.

Keywords: Standardized testing, Student Characteristics, Student Skills, Academic Achievement, Educational Reform

Suggested Citation

Rybinski, Krzysztof, Does Standardized Testing Make Best High School Students Dumber? (December 22, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Krzysztof Rybinski (Contact Author)

Vistula University ( email )

Stoklosy 3

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