Research Question: Are standardized tests the most efficient way to evaluate students?
Rapidly bubbling in answers, erasing any mistakes, clutching on your chair in a cramped room, and stressing over your answers is what students go through when taking a standardized test. Most students are familiar with the process of these tests and are used to getting pestered about their importance. Standardized tests primary functions are to collect data and assess students on their academic readiness. Although the data is more for administrators, considering teachers should already know a student’s mastery over subjects from assignments. Leaving us with the question, are standardized tests the best method of evaluation?
To fully understand the topic, you must have an idea of what standardized tests are. The Great Schools Partnership (2015) says that a standardized test is a test that has identical questions on every test and is graded in a uniform manner. The test can be an array of question types, not just multiple choice. Two types of standardized tests are commonly given in schools: achievement tests and aptitude tests. Aptitude tests are used to predict how a student will do in an environment. They show us areas where we excel and where we can improve. An example of an aptitude test is the PSATs. Achievement tests are meant to assess the knowledge that students have over a topic. These tests are used to evaluate schools, teachers, and students. The ACT and the STAAR are examples of achievement tests. In conclusion, the Great Schools Partnership says that the accountability of achievement and aptitude tests is up for debate.
Anne Hyslop (2005), believes that annual standardized tests are helpful and necessary.?Yearly tests can show what students have learned and how they have progressed. Also, frequent testing fishes out schools that do not help their students grow. In fact, “Two schools that look the same in terms of proficiency can look remarkably different on growth—because one of the schools is accelerating students’ learning trajectories upward,” (Anne Hyslop,2005). The tests set standards and make sure students meet expectations. Another reason why standardized tests are beneficial is that they provide accountable statistics for schools. Standardized tests can help schools set policies and increase their ratings. Assessments can make it easier for districts to decide where money is needed to better educate their students.? In conclusion, Anne Hyslop says that annual standardized tests should be kept.
This all may be true, but there is another side to the issue. A third writer,?ProCon.org?(2017) states that standardized tests are abominable. Standardized tests have not increased students’ success. “A May 26, 2011 study National Research Council report found no evidence test-based incentive programs are working.” (ProCon.Org,2017). Standardized tests can only measure a small amount of children’s education. Some examples of what standardized tests cannot measure our creativity, responsibility, leadership, critical thinking, and integrity. Also, the testing industry has a reputation for making scoring errors. In 2010 NCS Pearson delivered Florida’s Comprehension Assessment Test more than a month late, and the facilities reliability was questioned. Also, in 2005 in Hawaii, the American Institutes for Research came across an issue causing them to re-score 98,000 tests. Moreover, standardized tests can cause high-stress levels in students. The third author concludes that standardized tests are unreliable and defective.
W. James Popham, professor emeritus at the University of California, (2005)?states the standardized tests are flawed. High scores are usually the primary target for most schools, which is acceptable, but to improve the scores’ teachers might only teach the curriculum needed for the test. Students learn how to take the test rather than understand the subject. Also, teachers must educate their students about so much content which may leave students with curriculum they haven’t mastered. Even though the tests are “instructional insensitive,” as Popham says, they still are a significant part of the education system. In most places, standardized tests are the leading factor in decision making and evaluations. If a school were to score low on a test, then they could be put on an improvement track. Also, teachers are judged on how well their students do on the test. With all this pressure, some administrators use unlawful measures when scoring or regulating tests. W. James Popham concludes that standardized tests may not be capable of assessing students and schools.
According to Anya Kamenetz (2015), if we were to eliminate the standardized tests, we have a few alternatives. Schools could assess students through the process of sampling, which is the same test, just less. Stealth assessments allow schools to collect data from software when students practice in online textbooks or websites. The examination shows how quickly students understand a subject. Multiple measures use different kinds of information to test. These measures include social and emotional skill surveys and game-based assessments. Also, inspections including presentations and reports designed to measure creativity and academics are an option. This author concludes that we have many replacements for significant tests.
Laura Robison (2014) educates us on the negative correlation between standardized test scores and remedial courses. In the Osnaburg Local School District, there was a 92% proficiency rate in math. Although, 75% of the students in public colleges from the district had to take remedial math courses. “Similarly, Frontier Local School District (rural Southeast Ohio) recorded a 73 percent proficiency rate in math, yet 83 percent of its college-going students took remedial mathematics.”(Robison,2014). Also, “Campbell City School District (near Youngstown) recorded a 77 percent proficiency in eighth-grade reading, but subsequently, an English remediation rate of 70 percent.”(Robison,2014) These facts bring up the faults of standardized tests and their reliability. To conclude, Laura Robinson says that standardized tests are not capable of measuring students’ knowledge.
Overall standardized have positives, and they have negatives. Standardized tests can check if students have learned what is required of them. They also provide necessary data for administrators. However, standardized tests have many issues such as having to re-grade 98,000 tests in Hawaii. Also, standardized tests cannot assess all what students have learned. It boils down to the fact that standardized tests should not be the end all be all. Standardized tests should be part of evaluations and decisions, not the primary factor. Having one test as the primary way we judge students are unrealistic, and we should make a change.
One of the ideas explained why standardized tests should be kept. The article mentioned that annual tests can show what students have learned and growth of knowledge. The state tests can provide necessary data for school districts. Another article stated that standardized tests can only measure a small part of children’s education. A third idea brought up the reliability of standardized tests. There is a negative correlation between standardized test scores and remedial courses. For example, in the Osnaburg School School district there was a Also, an author stated alternatives for standardized tests like stealth assessments. Stealth assessments are found in software programs that produce online textbooks that measure students’ mastery of subjects as they progress in the lessons. In conclusion, standardized tests are not meant to be the main factor in school’s decision-making process. Therefore, not being the most effective way to assess students’ knowledge.