Standardized Testing

According to standardization is the consistency and objectivity of how tests are administered. Meaning if a test is standardized it is to be given the same way every time, under the same conditions, and scored using the same scale and system. One reason schools use standardized test is for comparison. To truly compare students scores they must know that the tests were given the same way, and of course, graded the same way. For example, if a student takes a math test and his teacher did not give him clear instructions it might cause him to score lower than other children who did receive clear instructions. So if we standardize the test and give every teacher the same instructions to read to each student it will ensure no student had an unfair advantage over another. The scores would truly reflect the child’s intelligence, or would it?


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Because standardized tests are often only given once in a long period of time they are subject to noncognitive factors such as illness and fatigue. If a student is sick one day or did not get enough sleep the night before the test it can highly influence their scores. Also, since standardized tests aren’t often written by the teachers directly interacting and instructing the students, information not taught in the classroom can often show up on the test.

This then makes the test not an accurate representation of how well the student listens in the classroom. Also, if teachers are given the test question early or are given knowledge of the test before it is given, they may just start teaching the test instead of the curriculum. This causes students to miss out on some of the curriculum and not fully learn about the subject they are studying. Standardized tests also often do not assess higher thinking skills because most of them are multiple choice and are very general.

So if standardized tests are only accurate some of the time should schools start adopting another way of measuring progress in students? According to a common alternative to standardized testing is a curriculum based assessment. A curriculum based assessment is one in which a student is assessed often on strictly what they are being taught in the classroom. They are often assessed on how accurate and proficient they are. Then all the scores of every student are taken and averaged to see what the normal student’s score should be around. That score is then used as the basis for what an acceptable score should be. This would be a very accurate representation of the students progress and learning abilities, but some would argue leaves little room for the regulation of teachers.

The question really lies in what we are looking to measure when a student is in school. Do we want to measure their general intelligence or how well they learn? Is it fair to grade a student on his general intelligence and not how well he pays attention in the classroom? Is a grade supposed to represent if a student does what he or she is expected too, or the amount of intelligence a student has? These are important questions to think about when debating which of these methods, or others to use.

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