Standardized Testing

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Standardized Testing

Standardized Testing


Testing, also called assessment, is the procedures used to measure students on the education variables we are interested in. The purpose of a test is to assess students' aptitudes, achievements, knowledge, or skills. A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent way. The majority of the commercial tests are standardized. A standardized test with significant consequences for the students is also called a high-stakes test. One example of educational high-stakes tests would be a statewide graduation exam that must be passed before a student graduates. A standardized test is characterized by a uniform procedure for administration and scoring. Generally there are directions specifying the test procedures, including qualification of the person administering the test, time allowed for the test, materials that students can use, and other conditions. There are also instructions on how to score the student responses objectively. The majority of the standardized tests are norm referenced so that the results can be compared against the norm group. Standardized tests are produced commercially by testing companies that have experts in assessment and measurement. Commercially available standardized tests have been reviewed on issues such as validity, reliability, and item analysis. This paper will address the pros and cons of Standardized Testing along with its purpose and reliability and validity.


Purposes of Testing

In education, the goal of standardized testing is to provide accurate information about students in order to make well-informed decisions. Results from tests have served multiple purposes, such as guiding instruction, meeting accountability demands, promoting equity, and increasing efficiency. Interwoven with these purposes is the use of standardized tests as instruments of reform.


Guiding Instruction

A major purpose of testing in education is the improvement of student knowledge and achievement. To achieve this purpose, states often develop standardized tests to measure student achievement of subject-area learning goals, typically referred to as curriculum standards. States develop curriculum standards to serve as frameworks to guide teachers in planning classroom instruction. These standards then guide the design of the state tests. In turn, the state tests provide information about student achievement of the curriculum standards and the need for instructional reform.


Taxpayer expenditures for public education contribute to a demand for accountability. Often legislators and state and district educational agencies rely on standardized testing for gauging school success. Test data contribute to policy-making decisions that target reform, such as retention/promotion of students, pay raises for teachers, and the reassignment of administrators.


Historically, both egalitarians and eugenicists, whose philosophies are polar opposites, have looked to standardized tests as instruments of reform. Advocates of eugenics hoped to use standardized tests as a means to classify people with lower intelligence and to use selective breeding to gradually eliminate those with mental challenges. On the other hand, egalitarians hoped that standardized tests, such as the SAT, would level the playing field in admissions to higher education and open the gates to all students regardless of family legacy or the quality of a student's high school. By gauging the aptitude ...
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