Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Resolved: Public high school students in the US ought not be required to pass standardized exit exams.

Posted by Michael Dickens on August 19, 2009

This is the September/October LD debate resolution. Here are my thoughts.

Arguments for the Affirmative

  • The most obvious argument for the affirmative is to argue that not everyone is the same so standardization is inherently flawed.
  • Standardized tests are not good measures of ability.
  • —Rebuttal: That is a different problem entirely. We just need better standardized tests, that’s all.

  • States should be able to decide whether students take exit exams; there should be no nationwide standard.
  • Standardized exams are unfair to minorities.
  • Arguments for the Negative

  • Standardized exams can give universities and employers an objective measure of a student’s ability.
  • —Rebuttal: It is erroneous to try to objectively compare students. Students cannot be compared like that because people are not the same.

  • Standardized exams objectively compare different school districts to measure the effectiveness of the education.
  • —Rebuttal: It only really measures the district’s ability at teaching that test. Teachers will focus on the test material and ignore other (possibly more important) subjects.
    ——Counter-Rebuttal: That is the result of a flawed exam, not exams themselves.
    ———Double-Counter-Rebuttal: All exams are flawed. Teachers and students will always exploit a standardized exam.

  • The original purpose of education was to prepare youth to work in the industrial world. Standardized exit exams fit this model perfectly.
  • —Rebuttal: The purpose of education has changed.


    The number of arguments for the negative is extremely limited (there are rebuttals to all three of the arguments that I came up with). I have looked at various sites such as Decorabilia and I have not come up with any more than these two. This topic seems like it could have depth, but it would require some serious digging. It is not up to usual LD standards. An argument on this topic would end up spinning in circles, simply because there is not enough to say.

    This resolution is biased in favor of the Affirmative. It is a decent topic; it could certainly be worse, but it is also just not all that great.


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