Standard tests are based on accepted standards of test development. Anyone undertaking a standardized test tackles a similar set of questions under similar instructions. The tests’ grading is based on the same criteria. These aspects create a common ground for everyone regardless of diverse school systems. Through the tests, government agencies and other concerned parties can monitor a student and school’s performance.
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An individual’s performance can be evaluated as improving, deteriorating, or stagnant. By evaluating the standardized test scores, various problems affecting a school can be identified and the curriculum changed to address the student’s needs. The tests help to motivate both the students and teachers in their respective undertakings. These tests set high expectations for students holding them accountable by the results that they present. Thus, they have to attach a significant level of seriousness to education.
Standardized testing does not provide an effective means of evaluating all individual’s abilities. Using the standardized test results as the main factor regarding ability tracing affects how the teachers teach, and the student learning. A significant percentage of the test fails to address the course objectives. It puts unfair demands on students and teachers and thus affects their social and emotional well-being. Poor performance leads to disillusionment and reduced motivation. This aspect also affects the teacher-student relationship.
The pressurization also causes teachers to focus their teaching on the areas to be tested, as they know beforehand what is on the test and want to post good results. Often, they end up ignoring the other topics that require coverage to spend more time on the concepts that will be tested.
Thus, although the students may post good test results, their curriculum will have considerably narrowed. The various theories that formed the basis of standardized testing are outdated. Researchers and psychologists have disapproved the Behavioralist theory, which emphasised that complex tasks, can be broken down into smaller skills which when learned, one would have mastered the greater task.
Furthermore, standardized testing fails to consider diversity. It does not consider issues such as ADHD that hamper student’s performance. Some students suffer from test anxiety, which affects their performance. Standardized testing also disregards cultural diversity whereby the test fails to consider the different cultural backgrounds of the test takers. The tests are written in English language a factor that affects the non-native speakers who have difficulties interpreting the questions.
Standardized testing has both the positive and negative aspects. Balancing both sides will considerably contribute to an effective education system. Student’s evaluation to determine their progress is vital.
However, various factors that render some students disadvantaged and thus cannot compete favourably with others must be considered in the creation of a testing system that is completely fair to everyone. The current theories such as the Differential learning and Motivation theories that suggest that learning is a complex relationship between the student and his or her environment should be considered in the establishment of new forms of ability evaluation.
The over-emphases on the posting of good results that pressurizes the students and teacher causing them to result to inappropriate means of ensuring good performance should be discouraged. The test should evaluate other aspects in addition to the classroom ability so that every student’s ability can be identified. Bringing out the aspect of success in one area will motivate a student to improve in others.