There are two possible types of student assessment, standardized and nonstandardized, which are characterized by different purposes, styles, and methods. The effect of both assessments is regarded as positive and reliable, because students get a chance to evaluate own level of knowledge, clear up personal abilities, work on own weaknesses, and improve them.
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The point is that these two types of assessment concentrate on different aspects of students’ abilities and knowledge and use different principles as the major grounds.
The major difference between standardized and nonstandardized assessments lies in their sizes: standardized assessment allows to evaluate student abilities in different schools and even states, and nonstandardized assessment is aimed to check the level of knowledge and abilities of students from one school or even from one classroom only.
The peculiar feature of standardized assessment is the necessity for all test takers to follow one concrete standard to compare students’ readiness for the next level of education. Such tests like SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) or ACT (American College Testing Program) help to evaluate student level of knowledge and his/her understanding of the material passed.
Due to these tests, the issues of language barriers, various background knowledge, and differences of social status become inconsiderable, and many students face certain challenges while passing this tests. Nonstandardized assessment is usually developed for one classroom with a certain number of students.
These assessments are not used to compare knowledge of one group of students with knowledge of the other group of students. With the help of nonstandardized assessments, teachers can offer class discussion or group observations to develop new students’ skills and use them in everyday life.
Assessments have several phases: one of them is instructional, also known as formative, and another is summative, also known as official.
Summative assessment is the one that takes place periodically throughout year, and its results are recorded by teachers and used on different levels in order to find out which student is more competent in one sphere and incompetent in the other one.
Formative assessment usually occurs on daily basis during the school year and represents formal and informal observations of student level of knowledge and abilities. Standardized tests may be both formative and summative because the results of these tests will be reliable and helpful for many purposes on different levels.
Nonstandardized tests are usually instructional ones as they include lesson planning and promote the development of monitoring and adjusting. With the help of these tests, teachers get an opportunity to evaluate students’ creating thinking and abilities to explain the material in own words and from own perspective.
Such assessment does not require following certain standards but does concentrate on student’s involvement into the assignment and student’s desire to solve the problem and offer appropriate way out.
The examples of summative assessments are state assessments, tests at the end of a semester, AYP tests, true/false tests, and numerous matching tests.
Formative assessments are classroom activities, which include discussion responses, pretests, which allow to be prepared for next activities, and homework exercises, which aim at testing student understanding of the material.
This analysis of different assessment types allows to clear up that the major difference between standardized and nonstandardized assessment is all about their nature and methods.
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Standardized assessments pay more attention to the generally accepted rules and formats, and nonstandardized assessments deal with student’s personal comprehension of the material, his/her attitude to the chosen subject, and his/her abilities to present answers and be able to prove own point of view.
It is impossible to clear up what kind of assessment is better, because they substitute and even improve each other.