Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it is stupid.” This quote was aimed to schools and the poor standards and way we judge how smart or stupid one
is. Einstein’s quote was a ‘caution’ to all experts to use appropriate ways to judge ones smart. If you set climbing a tree as an assessment task to test how smart a fish is when clearly a fish cannot climb a tree. Testing the intelligence of a fish “is just as inappropriate as setting a logical-mathematical assessment task to test the intelligence of a person gifted with interpersonal intelligence. The person assessed only by narrow and often inappropriate standards may spend their whole life believing they are stupid” (Peter)
“As Stiggins (2008) suggests, “Standardized test are forms of tests that require all the test takers to do it at the same time, same day, administered with consistent instructions, allowed the same amount of time for each student to write the test, and scored in the same manner”” (Poulsen) . These tests are marked in a consistent way so it makes it easier to compare the performance of students individually or even as a group. There are many problems with how these tests are created and how these results are being used. These test normally include multiple choices questions which mean there is only one right answer. (Sze Mai)
“The intent in standardized testing is to have large numbers of students write a single test, then to compare any single score against all others to see how an individual’s score compares to the large sample. The results are then posted on a bell curve that indicates where a score sits within descriptive statistical standards.” (Poulsen) Standardised testing happens everywhere all over the globe in academic environments for many reasons such as university and college entrances, international comparisons test, achievement and aptitude test and many more. Standardised test can reduce individual evaluations and any potential bias or favouritism due to the computerised scoring. Many experts all over the world tend to consider them fair as “They are intended to provide an accurate, unfiltered measure of what a student knows.” (Churchill).
The type of environments that these tests are used in are:
Achievement test: These tests are used to see how much a student has learnt, it is also used to determine one’s skills and knowledge and to determine one’s academic skills over time. It can also be used for evaluating how well the teachers are teaching. “They measure how well students have learned what they were expected to learn” (Partnership)
Aptitude test: An aptitude test is to predict one’s ability to succeed at an intellectual effort.
College/School/ University admissions: These tests are used to test a student knowledge to see if they are eligible to join a certain institute.
International- comparison test: These are to monitor the achievement trends in different countries and comparing the performance of students across countries
Psychological test: These include IQ test, and they test one’s abilities, mental, emotional, developmental, and social characteristics.
Due to many laws, state and federal, all over the world schools aim to also use these results as a way of improving the school and how the teacher is teaching. When improving schools and improving student achievement. Standardised test is used to “Hold schools and educators accountable for educational results and student performances.” (Partnership). Therefore elucidating the impression that low scores may give consequences to the schools and teachers that are held responsible. These test can be used to identify and determine the gaps in what the students are learning, thus the teachers and educators can provide appropriate services that can potentially close the gap. Identifying the achievement gaps are also something that these test can achieve. For example, these include students that grew up in different backgrounds, students of colour, students from low-income households, students whose first language is not English and even students with physical and mental learning abilities. (Partnership) Among these different groups “exposing and highlighting achievement gaps may be seen as an essential first step in the effort to educate all students well, which can lead to greater public awareness and changes in educational policies and programs” (Partnership) “The factors that affect a student getting a question right or wrong may be infinite and could be organized into situational/environmental confounding factors, personal/emotional factors, and grade-spread requirement in standardized testing.” (Poulsen)
Debates all over the world about standardised testing have been very wide, whether if these tests are good or bad, reliable or unreliable. “Standardized achievement tests to ascertain educational quality is like measuring temperature with a tablespoon. Tablespoons have a different measurement mission than indicating how hot or cold something is. Standardized achievement tests have a different measurement mission than indicating how good or bad a school is. Standardized achievement tests should be used to make the comparative interpretations that they were intended to provide” (Popham).
On standardised test it is almost impossible for one to express their creativity because these questions have only 1 answer, the ability to express creativity is very important throughout many jobs and opportunities as the students grow up. (Sze Mai) On the other hand, some students strengths are not the academics and are stronger at the arts this tends to put them at a disadvantage, in turn, this puts students that are more creative at a disadvantage as they are not able to express their creativity. and Students also have different ways of learning such as visually, aurally, physically, logically and verbally, if the teacher does not teach in a certain way some students may not pick up as quickly as others. These tests tend to assume that all students are around the same level of understanding.
“According a report by Guskey and Jung “More and more students’ lives are becoming influenced by standardized testing, as a societal push for educational accountability has led to a dramatic increase in the use of these assessments across districts and nations” (Poulsen) Since students know that the result of these test can very likely affect the future of their lives as a result students will tend to do whatever they can to pass these exams which include cheating and guessing. (Armstrong) “Standardized test is a high stake test. If a student does well in the test, he or she may successfully enter a top college, while he or she may not actually meet the standards of the university, as high scores might be the result of guessing” (Sze Mai) In turn, this puts the student under a lot of stress as some believe if you don’t do well you will not do well in life which is most definitely not the truth in this day and age. When students cheat it does not convey what they actually learned and what they know; defeating the purpose of a standardised test. Cheating basically devalues education.
So much attention has been put onto these test because it is said if you do well on these big test you will do well in life. Teachers are starting to spend more time just basically “teaching the test, If there is something that is interesting, compelling, useful, or otherwise favorable to the development of a student’s understanding of the world, but it is not going to be on the standardized test, then there really isn’t any incentive to cover this material.” (Armstrong) This limits down the material that is being taught and they are only being tested what is going to be on a test, in turn, most of the classroom time consist teachers teaching the test, students preparing for the test.
Getting a few questions wrong on a test does not define and reflect on how much the student knows about the subject one is being tested on. Even though standardised testing has maybe downs there are still benefits of it. One of the benefits is that these tests are easy to mark/grade and the results can reach the students efficiently (Sze Mai)
Since there is only 1 answer to the questions, there is an objective measure to score the test takers. Schools, colleges and university need some kind of unbiased tool to mark these test. “This is where standardized tests are beneficial, given that personal interviews and demographic information automatically subject evaluations to bias and human error.” (Kira)
They also allow to have equal content for all the students and as well as letting all the children learn the same thing, however, taking that information into account is solely the choice of the student. “This was intended to close the gap between minority and poverty-stricken students with those from higher-income families.” (Kira) These tests are prepared to close the gap between the student backgrounds, even if they come from higher or lower income earning families it does not matter as everyone is equal and does the same test. It disregards the background of the child and treats each student equal opportunities.
The history of standardised testing has shown the stimulant for these kinds of big scale testing have been inspired by noble aspirations, which was all about having the right person at the right place, whether that place is the correct job in the military or some form of education. (Poulsen) “Aptitude testing for admission into colleges and universities seems to be especially effective as quantitative research has established links between such testing and later success at post-secondary institutions.” (Poulsen)
“The teaching of a nation’s children is too important to be left unmonitored. But to evaluate educational quality by using the wrong assessment instruments is a subversion of good sense” (Popham)