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Should there be incentive for scoring well on standardized tests?
It is that dreaded time of year again, when the brand new, non-mechanical #2 pencils are
unwrapped and placed on the desks for the required standardized, state-administered tests.
Student dread it every year, and for this reason, they do not take these tests seriously. This is why
schools should offer money to high-scoring students and send these high scores to colleges. By
doing so, kids will put in more effort, schools will obtain scores that more accurately
demonstrate what the students have learned, and kids in the state of Colorado will perform better
on these kinds of exams.
Rewarding students with money for high scores will motivate them to try harder. As a
taker of these exams, I would hear a plethora of my fellow classmates telling one another that
they are just going to randomly mark down answers on the tests so that they can get them over
with faster [complex]. I have also witnessed students rushing so that they can finish and have
time to read a book or play games on a device. If schools were to offer a grade or even money for
getting an advanced or proficient score, kids would be much more inclined to try their best. Even
if the test itself was not important to the student, they would try for the money, and a good grade
may matter more to a scholarly taker as well. [complex] The money could be used to buy
something that they value as important, which could be books, video games, food, or even a car,
and an easy grade such as this could positively affect a student’s GPA.
Some will argue that if a student does not care, they will not try no matter what
consequences or rewards they are given. Of course, students around the age of 16 or 17 do not
put effort into these tests because the test does not benefit them directly in any way. Colleges do
not look at these standardized scores like they do tests such as the ACT, and the students do not
receive a grade that would go on their transcript. In some cases, if the student knows that a
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teacher they are not fond of will be evaluated based on their scores, the student may try their
very least to make the teacher look bad. However, if students knew that colleges would be
looking at these scores and that they could receive money for doing well, scholars would put
aside their selfishness and/or dislike for a teacher. They would be getting something worthwhile
in return, thus making them more inclined to put in their maximum effort.
Since kids will be trying harder, the school will obtain scores that are more accurate.
More kids will be trying to demonstrate as much as they know to receive a proficient or
advanced score, and this in turn will lead to a greater percentage of these high scores.
Standardized tests are used to reward school districts with aid and grants, so more schools will be
able to reap these benefits [compound]. In addition, obtaining accurate scores will allow schools
to get a better picture of where students are struggling and be able to cater to their learning needs
in the most effective way possible. This can improve the quality of education for schools
everywhere and make education in the United States more progressive. TCAP scores in the state
of Colorado would be more accurate as well.
On the 2013 TCAP standardized tests, 73 percent of students in reading and 72 percent in
math scored proficient or advanced, with only 51 percent of students in writing and 48 percent in
science under the same parameters. (Colorado Department of Education) At first glance, scores
of 73 and 72 percent seem decent enough, but this still means that 27-28 percent of kids are
either not trying or are not learning state standards. It is even more appalling to look at the
writing and science scores because nearly half of the students in the state of Colorado are not
meeting standards. Have students truly not learned that much? Or alternatively, rather, do they
take the tests with a grain of salt? As a student, I can confirm that kids think the tests are
senseless and absurd; therefore, they see no point in putting effort into them. This changes the
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accuracy of these percentages for the worse. Kids will not put down what they really know, and
the test cannot measure their progress accurately, rendering it useless. They do not think the tests
matter, and even though they may not to the individual student, they matter when trying to see
how well kids are learning here in Colorado. If scholars had incentive programs motivating them
to put in effort, they would be more likely to try on the tests, meaning that students’ abilities are
being measured more accurately. One could assume that, because of this, schools everywhere in
the state would receive better marks.
Rewarding students for scoring well on standardized tests would not only benefit the
students directly, but also the schools’ and state’s education program as a whole. The kids would
be more motivated to try, the schools would obtain scores that allow them to pinpoint where
students need the most help, and state standardized test scores would improve. If schools were to
offer incentive programs such as a grade or money to students for scoring proficient or advanced,
kids would not dread TCAP testing as much. They would not see the tests as a waste of time but
rather as an easy opportunity to make money, appeal to colleges, or better their grades.

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Works Cited

Colorado Department of Education. CSAP / TCAP - Data and Results. 13 March 2014. 18 March
2014 <http://www.cde.state.co.us/assessment/coassess-dataandresults>.