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Effectiveness of Standardized Testing

In: Social Issues

Submitted By anorris0031
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Effectiveness of Standardized Testing
Ashley Norris
Com 220
September 16, 2012
Katie Boswell

Effectiveness of Standardized Testing
Hayden, a second grader, always has had trouble taking tests. From the very first test that he took in kindergarten until now, Hayden has collapsed under the pressure of the test and has never performed at a standard that was acceptable to himself or his educators. Situations such as this one are far too common in our schools today. Many of the children, such as Hayden, have fallen through the cracks in our classrooms. This has caused many people to ask themselves what is going on and how can things be changed. For years, educators have relied on standardized testing to provide them with information on a student’s progress throughout the year. However, much has changed since standardized testing was introduced. Standardized testing no longer accurately depicts a student’s progress in school; therefore, other forms of testing must be implemented to give all students a fair chance. Throughout history educators have used standardized testing as the main tool to predict how our educational system is working. These tests have been used as a way to assess what a student has learned throughout the school year and to inform teachers and school officials about how the curriculum is working. In many cases, the tests are administered closer to the end of the school year. By doing this, it allows the teachers and school officials to assess how the present school year is going and to determine if the student will have success in future classes (Wiliam, 2010). Standardized tests have been around since the 19th Century. They were first used to determine compentency and used as a way to detect the amount of knowledge one has before they entered college. Many colleges used standardized testing as entrance exams. Since the first test was administered, the reports were that they were successful and seemed to be pleasing to citizens (Duncan & Stevens, 2011). However, even though times have changed, standardized tests have remained the same. New research has shown that while each student has retained the same amount of information, these students may not perform the same way on the standardized test (Richard & Stone, 2008). As a result of this research, it is now concluded that standardized testing is not an accurate form of collecting information about the students learning because it does not provide every student with the opportunity to display all of the knowledge that they have learned throughout the year. This poses the question, is standardized testing a fair way to assess what a student has learned? Educators say that by using standardized tests, everyone is given a fair chance to perform well because the tests are uniform and everyone is tested in the same environment. This is where the debate begins. For many years educators have thought that by giving the same exact test to students in the same environment then it is considered fair and students have an equal opportunity to perform well. However, according to Suzanne Carr, a nursing instructor, this is not the case. Ms. Carr states that, many students have other factors that play into their performance on standardized tests (Carr, 2011). These factors are overlooked and are not taken into consideration when evaluating a student’s performance on a standardized test. Anxiety over taking the test and the pressure to perform well, worries from home carrying over to school, or an undetected disorders and learning disability can have a damaging effect on how well a student performs on a standardized test. Pressure from wanting to perform well can create anxiety in a student. When a student is overwhelmed by pressure or anxiety the student is not capable of performing to the best of their ability (Carr, 2011). Matters from home can also play an important role a student’s performance while taking the test. If a student is hungry or thinking about the fight that their parents had the night before then the student could find that they are easily distracted when it comes to test time (Duckworth, Quinn & Tsukayama, 2011). Undetected disorders and learning disabilities, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, can take the child’s attention away from the test and place it on something else. In many cases with Attention Deficit Disorder, the smallest noise can be distracting. None of these factors are known or even looked into when determining how well a student performed on the standardized test. With none of these factors being taken into consideration, one is left to question what the intentions really are of the educators who administer the standardized tests. When standardized tests were first created, the sole intention of educators was to safely evaluate the amount of knowledge that a student has retained throughout the school year and to assess the probability of success in future classes (Wiliam, 2010). However, in more recent years, many feel that intention is no longer valid. The personal gain that a school and its employees stand to benefit from when a student performs well on a standardized test has become increasingly hot topic. According to a recent poll conducted by Purdue University, citizens now feel as though educators are only administering standardized tests so that the teachers can receive bonuses and so that the school can receive more funding instead of assessing the knowledge of a student and how well the school’s curriculum is working (Richards & Stone, 2008). With all of the negativity surrounding standardized testing many citizens are advocating for change and are wondering what can be done.
While advocates for standardized testing still claim that they can lead the way to the future of our educational system, others feel as though this is not the case. Something must be done to ensure that all of our children are given a fair chance at displaying the information and knowledge that they have retained thought the school year. Many teachers and school officials are looking into new ways to improve and move past standardized testing. One of the ways being suggested is portfolio-based assessments. Portfolio based assessments are collections of information pertaining to how a student has progressed and developed throughout the year. The portfolios can be customized according to the school’s curriculum or a student’s special needs (Duckworth, Quinn, & Tsukayama, 2012). Portfolio-based assessments have proven to be beneficial because they allow educators the chance to collect information such as photographs, actual work samples, three dimensional figures or audio and video for the portfolio’s at any point and time throughout the year. By doing this the educators allow the information to be collected when the child is comfortable, relaxed and performing to their highest potential. Educators can review this information and assess how a student has progressed. Another alternative form of assessment being researched is the dynamic assessment. In children with non-English speaking backgrounds or children who do not speak English as a primary language, dynamic assessment can be the best option to decide how much a child has progressed or grown throughout the year. This form of assessment can provide educators with valid and reliable information about a student whereas standardized testing cannot do that. Dynamic assessment is broken down into three parts the pretest, teaching and the post test (Duckworth, Quinn, & Tsukayama, 2012). The pretest is used to evaluate what a student currently knows and what they need to be taught. The pretest is usually administered at the beginning of a school year. Throughout the year the teacher is in the teaching phase of Dynamic assessment. This is when the teacher is providing the students with strategies and is observing how the student accommodates and applies these strategies. Finally at the end of the year a post test is administered where the educators review the pretest and look at what the student now knows as compared to what they knew when the retest was given. The observations gathered throughout the year are taken into consideration to reach a final conclusion as to how the student has progressed and improved. The last alternative form of assessment is curriculum based assessment. Curriculum based assessment is when educators format their curriculum for a specific year and analyze how well the students have performed on assignments and tests. Background information for each student is taken into consideration and at the end of every school year educators meet to assess what has worked with their curriculum and what has not served its purpose. This is an increasingly beneficial alternative to standardized testing because it is ever changing. This form of assessment allows educators to format the curriculum that they are teaching to accommodate the level of learning that a particular student is at. Another advantage that curriculum based assessment has over standardized testing is that is takes into consideration every students background before reaching a final decision on their personal performance for the year (Wright, 2010). All of these alternate forms of assessment can lead everyone into the future of education whereas standardized testing leaves everyone lagging far in the past. Portfolio based, dynamic and curriculum based assessments can ensure that every child is given a fair chance to display the knowledge that they have retained throughout the school year.
In conclusion, standardized testing is no longer an accurate for of assessment to determine a child’s progress in school. Other forms of testing such as, portfolio based assessment, dynamic assessment, and curriculum based assessment are proven to be more beneficial to students than standardized tests. The alternate forms of testing ensure that every child, such as Hayden, is provided with a fair chance to perform to the best of their ability on assessment tests.


Wright, R. E. (2010). Standardized Testing for Outcome Assessment: Analysis of the Educational Testing Systems MBA Tests. College Student Journal, 44(1), 143-147.
Carr, S. (2011). NCLEX-RN Pass Rate Peril: One School's Journey Through Curriculum Revision, Standardized Testing, and Attitudinal Change. Nursing Education Perspectives, 32(6), 384-388. doi:10.5480/1536-5026-32.6.384
Duncan, B. A., & Stevens, A. (2011). High-Stakes Standardized Testing: Help or Hindrance to Public Education. National Social Science Journal, 36(2), 35-43
Richards, E., & Stone, C. (2008). Student Evaluation of a Standardized Comprehensive Testing Program. Nursing Education Perspectives, 29(6), 363-365.
Wiliam, D. (2010). Standardized Testing and School Accountability. Educational Psychologist, 45(2), 107-122
Duckworth, A. L., Quinn, P. D., & Tsukayama, E. (2012). What No Child Left Behind Leaves Behind: The roles of IQ and self-control in predicting standardized achievement test scores and report card grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(2), 439-451. Doi: 10.1037/a0026280

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