In the recent past, across all major cities in the USA, there have been more than a million students annually who opted out of enrolling in any form of standardized testing. The movement to opt out has been stronger than ever in New York State. As per a New York Times article, the opt-out rate has been as high as 80 percent in certain school districts.
The simple question that arises out of such high rates of opt-outs is why is such a test necessary.
Before diving deep into the debate of whether to opt in or opt out of a standardized test, let’s first understand what they really are.
What are Standardized Tests?
In simple terms, a standardized test is aimed at measuring a test taker’s performance relative to the performance of all the test takers for that assessment.
Standardized Tests Definition
A standardized test for a student is one that holds consistency across the type/content of questions asked, the time period to complete the test and scoring procedures. A well-developed test helps the test administrators compare each student’s performance with respect to all the other students who enrolled in the test.
In their most basic essence, the principles of standardized assessments are simple:
- They contain questions that are aimed at testing certain key skills/knowledge of the takers.
- Such assessments possess consistency in the total time allotted, number of questions, and nature of questions across candidates.
- The scoring procedures in such tests are also standardized through the use of a marking rubric or a scoring key.
Therefore, it could be concluded that the purpose of standardizing tests is to inculcate objectivity and validity in them.
Types of Standardized Tests
Particularly for students, standardized tests could be used for several educational or non-educational purposes. Such assessments could be used by both educators and parents.
|Type of Test||What it is?|
|Tests of Achievement||Analyze the knowledge level of candidates in the area of program outcomes.|
|Tests of Aptitude||Judge the extent to which the candidate possesses a specific skill.|
|Tests for Admission||Judge the compatibility of candidates to the performance standards and culture of the institution.|
|Global Comparison Tests||Track and compare the level of educational and aptitude growth among the citizens.|
|Psychological Tests||Tests to identify the levels of intelligence, personality, cognition, or behavioral disorder. |
It is possible for a student to perform at higher levels on these tests through self-development and continuous learning. The continuous learning plays a vital role in professional development and helps in the consistent building of better skills.
Pros of Standardized Testing: Why Do We Need Them?
Even after severe criticisms of standardized testing, they’re better tools to ensure a certain structure in education programs and institutes than could have been in the absence of such tests. These assessments help such institutes to have a certain confidence in their own objectivity and logical reasoning in their decision-making.
Following are some of the major pros of standardized testing, which cannot be ignored even by its most heavy critics.
- Anti-Racism: The standardization of such assessments in fact, leads the schools to inculcate certain basic knowledge and skills in their students (required by the standardization).
- Job Success: Such tests are capable of predicting a person’s job success in certain areas. For example, candidates with higher scores in Science and Mathematics, have better chances of succeeding as a scientist, than the others.
- Predicting Areas of Improvement: Such state tests help the parents, guardians, teachers, and institutions to identify the areas where their child needs improvement.
- Special Education Needs: Without the presence of a standardized test, it is much more difficult to identify children who are above or below the general human intelligence of their age.
Therefore, standardized tests, in fact, help to reduce racism in education, ensure success in certain jobs, predict areas of child improvement, and identify special education needs.
Cons of Standardized Testing
In the recent past, there has been much debate across the USA, regarding the necessity of standardized tests, especially for children. The debate extends onto the inefficiency of such tests in accurately measuring, what they purport to measure.
At the same time, such tests also result in unnecessary issues for both children and teachers. Let’s take a look below to understand some major cons of these assessments.
Source: Taken from the internet (unsplash.com)
- Racism: The standardized tests have been heavily criticized for their inherent bias against non-Whites. Such racism is depicted in multiple forms – the language used in questions, scoring procedures, and even the availability of test centers.
- Validity of Tests: The critics also argue that these assessments are only capable of judging the test-answering capabilities of students instead of student’s knowledge and aptitude.
- Failed Purpose of Tests: One of the major drawbacks of standardized testing has been their inability to focus on the ‘right student skills.’ Essential skills, like entrepreneurial behavior, creativity, and social skills, remain immeasurable with such tests.
Did you know?
Bill Gates, Chris Pratt, and Brad Pitt are some famous examples of Americans who failed or dropped their school/university exams and yet came out to be individuals with high caliber and success.
- Psychological Drawbacks of Testing: These assessments have been linked to high levels of stress and anxiety among children. Such stress and anxiety are linked to lower levels of psychological health for children.
- Time Consumption in Tests: The tests lead to much lost time for students, which they could otherwise utilize to build alternate skills and aptitudes. While development, conduction, and scoring of such tests, also lead to much loss of time for teachers.
Therefore, the several cons of standardized assessment are inherent racism, lower validity, inefficient purpose, psychological drawbacks, and unnecessary time consumption.
Popular Standardized Tests in the USA
When it comes to standardized testing, the USA ranks among the nations with the highest quality and standardization of tests for educational purposes. There are several standardized tests in the country that are utilized by both the institutes and the government, to lead to informed decision-making.
Following are some of these tests, undertaken on a wide scale in the country:
- Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
- Law School Admission Testing Program (LSAT)
These tests are used for admission into both – a university or the citizenship of the country.
Suggested Reading: 13 Amazing Techniques for Improve Reading Comprehension
To Sum it Up
A standardized test for a student is one that holds consistency across the content of questions asked, the time period to complete the test, and scoring procedures. It is primarily aimed at measuring a test taker’s performance. relative to the performance of all the test takers.
Moreover, such standardized assessments are being heavily criticized for their racism, validity, deficiency of purpose, psychological drawbacks, and unnecessary time consumption. However, these tests, in fact, ensure a certain structure in education programs and institutes. They also help the decision-makers to a certain objectivity in their actions.
Ans: The standardized assessments are being heavily criticized for their racism, validity, deficiency of purpose, psychological drawbacks, and unnecessary time consumption.
Ans: The standardized assessment tests ensure a certain structure in education programs and institutes. They also help the decision-makers acquire certain objectivity in their actions.
Ans: SAT, IELTS, GMAT, and LSAT are some of the popular standardized tests.
Ans: Though on average, an American child takes up to 112 standardized tests in their schooling life. However, there are many tests related to admission to diverse courses or tests of psychological assessment.
Ans: Standardized testing is important as it helps to introduce objectivity into the curriculum, identify areas for improvement, and determine domains where particular schools lack in their educational standards.
Ans: The Iowa Assessments, Stanford 10, Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP), California Achievement Test (CAT)/ Terra Nova Test, Woodcock-Johnson Test, and Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM) are the best standardized tests for homeschoolers.