Standardized tests in American schools has been a controversial issue among federal regulators, school administration, teachers, parents and students for years. The debate continues to escalate as standardized testing becomes more and more rigorous with the passing of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
What are standardized tests?
Standardized tests are implemented in the public school system as a way to present unbiased results of student progress based on what is being taught in the school curriculum. Many standardized tests are used to determine the overall school or class progress like with Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports. Tests like these help determine the standards set by the NCLB act. There are also forms of standardized tests that are simply to track individual student improvement and are used in-school purposes to maybe determine a student’s grade or to see how well the teacher implements the standards required by the state-set curriculum.
Many standardized tests are used to test the student achievement gap to see how students of particular races, classes or educational backgrounds compare against one another. Standardized tests like these help teachers and educational experts determine where the focus of attention needs to shift in order for all students to learn the required material. The majority of required standardized testing is used to judge the progress of students, classes and schools overall, but to also determine student’s individual scores to see how that student is preparing for advancement in education. These tests help demonstrate the students who may need additional help or tutoring in order to catch up on the required material.
The standardized tests debate
Many agree with standardized testing in schools for several reasons:
- Standardized tests demonstrate an overall method of achievement for classes and schools.
- Standardized tests show the achievement gap for groups of students to help teachers and administration determine the students who need additional one-on-one attention in schooling to keep up with the learning curve of their peers.
- Standardized tests help students relearn and recap the information they have previously been taught during the school year.
However, there are many disagreeing points when it comes to standardized tests:
- These tests are designed to be unbiased, yet studies have shown they reveal a bias toward the middle-class white background.
- Standardized tests do not represent a true sampling of how children learn. Many students who achieve good grades on regular assignments and tests do not perform well on standardized tests.
- In order to keep up with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements, some school administrators have been found to lower the goal set for the AYP testing to ensure the goals are met each year. However, this practice merely indicates low goal setting and not true academic achievement.
Sources: washingtonpost.com, fairtest.org, centerforpubliceducation.org