Standardized Testing Provides an Inexpensive and Reliable Indicator of Student Learning and Achievement

Standardized Testing Provides an Inexpensive and Reliable Indicator of Student Learning and Achievement

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Standardized Testing Provides an Inexpensive and Reliable Indicator of Student Learning and Achievement

The question of assessment in the "school system, individual schools, and teachers has evoked strong and sometimes violent emotions from the educational community, the general public and their legislative representatives"(Brown & Knight, 1994). Assessment based on standardized tests has been looked at very closely over the recent years, and some people have even mentioned that they be eliminated completely. Those who feel traditional methods should be replaced by alternative methods. These people feel that demonstration, exhibition, investigation, oral response, portfolio, and written response's are all examples of alternative assessments and should be incorporated in the classroom. They also feel that peer assessment should be incorporated because students learn a great deal from each other, and with large student numbers, "the importance of student feedback increases as the availability of tutor feedback decreases"(Brown & Knight, 1994).

G.I Maeroff wrote the first article I read he feels that assessment of student's achievement is changing, largely because today's students face a world that will demand new knowledge and abilities. "In the global economy of the 21st century, students will not only need to understand the basics, but also to think critically, to analyze, and to make inferences" (Maeroff, 1991). The author clearly identifies that we often believe that what get assessed is what get taught and that the format of assessment influences the format of instruction. Contrary to our understanding of how students learn, "many assessments test facts and skills in isolation, seldom requiring students to apply what they already know and can do it in real life situations"(Maeroff, 1991). He feels the problem with standardized tests is that they do not match the emerging content standards, and over reliance on this type of assessment often leads to instruction that "stresses the basic knowledge and skills" (Maeroff, 1991). The article reassures that rather than changes in instruction toward the engaged learning that will prepare students for the future, these test will encourage instruction of less important skills and passive learning. "Although the basic skills may be important goals of ...

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...nt is expensive and difficult to develop, administer and score, which makes their usefulness for large-scale assessment questionable. If these alternative models achieve comparable reliability and validity, wouldn't they in effect have become standardized as well? The issue is not whether or not one form of assessment is better than another; no assessment model is suited for every purpose. The real issue is choosing appropriately among the variables that apply the most suitable model for the students. It is necessary to determine what information is sufficient to each purpose before you decide what format that you are going to teach. The best way to do our students justice is to use as wide as possible a mixture of all the assessment methods; this will allow all the students to show their strengths and weaknesses.


Brown, S and Knight, P (1994). Assessing Learners in Higher Education. Kogan Page, London.

Linn, R.L., Baker, & S. B. Dunbar. (1991). Complex, Performance-Based Assessment: Expectations and Validation Criteria. Educational Researcher, 20 (8), pp. 15-21.

Maeroff, G.I. (1991). Assessing Alternative Assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 73 (4), pp. 273-281).

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