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Are Standardized Tests Really Effective?

Standardized tests have been an integral part of the American education system for several generations. The age-old method has been a robust tool to evaluate students’ achievements. Apart from serving as a benchmark, it also determines areas of development for diverse learners.

In this article, we will weigh up the effectiveness of these tests.

Decoding Standardized Testing
Standardized tests primarily consist of multiple-choice and elaborative questions. They are used to assess a student’s development over a certain period. All the students are expected to answer the same questions.

The marks scored in the tests help teachers gauge students’ understanding of the subject matter. The scores are also considered for further evaluations like SAT or ACT.

Good Aspects of Standardized Testing
Now is the time of experiments and innovations. Students even take help from an essay writing service online for assignments while they are busy with side hustles. Yet, standardized testing is still popular because of the advantages outlined below.

Making Teachers and Schools Accountable
The primary goal of standardized testing is to make teachers and schools responsible for the knowledge and skills students get. Results of these tests become public records. The teachers and schools who fall short of progressive results may face significant scrutiny.

Thus, a school may be closed or taken over by the state in several instances when teachers fail to deliver. In short, standardized tests enforce the quality of education.

Following a Well-Structured Framework
A school program needs to follow a structured format to keep everything streamlined. Standardized tests, for years, have helped institutions maintain this well-structured framework where they schedule tests at certain times of the year.

Besides, the tests are designed to include all the academic subjects that students study. Even the pattern of exams has also been fixed for each term. It saves educators from the necessity to organize everything from scratch.

Having a Specific Goal
Standardized tests are graded by computers or by people who do not know students personally. It allows eliminating the possibility of bias. When experts create a test paper, each question goes through a rigorous process to ensure its validity.

The end goal for each test is clear. Teachers also conduct surprise tests to identify the gaps in teaching and learning. These goal-driven tests help them apply different techniques to enhance the learning experience.

Identifying Areas of Improvement
Testing data shows areas of improvement for both teachers and students. The questions that appear difficult to everyone can be labeled for teaching again with a different approach to facilitate better outcomes. Teachers and parents also get an idea of the concepts an individual is struggling with.

Bad Aspects of Standardized Testing
Inflexibility
Some students may perform well in the classroom but struggle with tests due to exam anxiety. One’s exam result might be affected by family strife, mental and physical health concerns, and language barriers.

Standardized tests do not usually consider personal circumstances. They also lack personalization. With standard formats, students are expected to excel in all the subjects regardless of their areas of interest.

However, a righteous approach would help learners explore their favorite subjects. This will allow them to choose a career path they will enjoy.

Time and Creativity Constraints
Standard test formats conform to a fixed pattern over the years. When that happens, teachers start to focus on the particular topics that matter for the exams. This means they spend most of the instructional time on lessons that are important to pass the test.

This method brings a red alert for creativity and limits a student’s well-rounded learning ability. The compromise on qualitative learning becomes objectionable.

Inability to Measure Actual Development
Standardized testing merely assesses a student’s real-time performance. It is never designed to measure their growth and competency over time. Ideally, one’s performance should be evaluated throughout the course. Teachers can use innovative methods to ascertain accelerated learning outcomes.

Stressfulness
Test anxiety affects both teachers and students. Poor performance may cause a reduction in funding and dismissal of teachers. A poor test score might result in students being denied admission to their preferred college or being held back.

Alternatives to Standardized Testing
After a thorough analysis of the downsides of standardized testing, experts came up with various ingenious assessment techniques. Here are the most beneficial alternatives.

Project-Based Assessment. This is one of the most creative assessment methods where you assign projects to students. The projects are designed around extended versions of topics that will require them to research and explore on their own. This fun method is a subtle way of knowledge and skill evaluation.

Stealth Assessment. This method is more effective in the online mode of learning. Every time a student answers a question during the course, it gets registered in the program. The overall data is used to analyze a student’s performance.

Game-Based Assessment. Assessment games, such as GlassLab games, enforce critical thinking and motivate individuals to achieve more. The fun games allow teachers to assess students’ learning around various perspectives and not just book-based knowledge.

Conclusion
Performance-based assessment is a practical substitute for standardized examinations. It does offer an alternative to help teachers assess the development of students comprehensively.

This approach provides teachers with some breathing space. It saves them from the struggle of finding the most effective solutions for a well-rounded evaluation system. Those who believe that standardized tests are necessary for systematic evaluation can merge them with other assessment methods for maximum benefits.
Author: Torsten Daerr