A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner.
Any test in which the same test is given in the same manner to all test takers, and graded in the same manner for everyone, is a standardized test. Standardized tests do not need to be high-stakes tests, time-limited tests, or multiple-choice tests. The questions can be simple or complex. The subject matter among school-age students is frequently academic skills, but a standardized test can be given on nearly any topic, including driving tests, creativity, personality, professional ethics, or other attributes.
The opposite of standardized testing is non-standardized testing, in which either significantly different tests are given to different test takers, or the same test is assigned under significantly different conditions (e.g., one group is permitted far less time to complete the test than the next group) or evaluated differently (e.g., the same answer is counted right for one student, but wrong for another student).
Most everyday quizzes and tests taken by students typically meet the definition of a standardized test: everyone in the class takes the same test, at the same time, under the same circumstances, and all of the students are graded by their teacher in the same way. However, the term standardized test is most commonly used to refer to tests that are given to larger groups, such as a test taken by all adults who wish to acquire a license to have a particular kind of job, or by all students of a certain age.
Because everyone gets the same test and the same grading system, standardized tests are often perceived as being fairer than non-standardized test. Such tests are often thought of as fairer and more objective than a system in which some students get an easier test and others get a more difficult test. That perception, which may or may not be accurate, depends entirely on the purpose for the test. If a teacher wishes to determine individual children's skills with respect to a specific activity, tests other than those that are standardized are more effective. Standardized tests are designed to permit reliable comparison of outcomes across all test takers, because everyone is taking the same test. While that point is granted, often the children tested have not been exposed to the same materials found on those standardized tests. Equally often, such tests are constructed by individuals who have no knowledge of the test-takers beyond their age and/or grade level. Age and/or grade level, however, are poor indicators of what children have learned. As a result, conclusions drawn from the results can easily be wrong. The prevalence of standardized testing in formal education has also been criticized for many reasons.
The definition of a standardized test has changed somewhat over time. In 1960, standardized tests were defined as those in which the conditions and content were equal for everyone taking the test, regardless of when, where, or by whom the test was given or graded. The purpose of this standardization is to make sure that the scores reliably indicate the abilities or skills being measured, and not other things, such as different instructions about what to do if the test taker does not know the answer to a question.
By the beginning of the 21st century, the focus shifted away from a strict sameness of conditions towards equal fairness of conditions. For example, a test taker with a broken wrist might write more slowly because of the injury, and it would be more fair, and produce a more reliable understanding of the test taker's actual knowledge, if that person were given a few more minutes to write down the answers to a most test. However, if the purpose of the test is to see how quickly the student could write, then this would become a modification of the content, and no longer a standardized test.
The earliest evidence of standardized testing was in China, during the Han Dynasty, where the imperial examinations covered the Six Arts which included music, archery, horsemanship, arithmetic, writing, and knowledge of the rituals and ceremonies of both public and private parts. These exams were used to select employees for the state bureaucracy.
Later, sections on military strategies, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography were added to the testing. In this form, the examinations were institutionalized for more than a millennium.
Today, standardized testing remains widely used, most famously in the Gaokao system.
Standardized testing was introduced into Europe in the early 19th century, modeled on the Chinese mandarin examinations, through the advocacy of British colonial administrators, the most "persistent" of which was Britain's consul in Guangzhou, China, Thomas Taylor Meadows. Meadows warned of the collapse of the British Empire if standardized testing was not implemented throughout the empire immediately.
Prior to their adoption, standardized testing was not traditionally a part of Western pedagogy; based on the skeptical and open-ended tradition of debate inherited from Ancient Greece, Western academia favored non-standardized assessments using essays written by students. It is because of this, that the first European implementation of standardized testing did not occur in Europe proper, but in British India. Inspired by the Chinese use of standardized testing, in the early 19th century, British "company managers hired and promoted employees based on competitive examinations in order to prevent corruption and favoritism." This practice of standardized testing was later adopted in the late 19th century by the British mainland. The parliamentary debates that ensued made many references to the "Chinese mandarin system."
It was from Britain that standardized testing spread, not only throughout the British Commonwealth, but to Europe and then America. Its spread was fueled by the Industrial Revolution. The increase in number of school students during and after the Industrial Revolution, as a result of compulsory education laws, decreased the use of open-ended assessment, which was harder to mass-produce and assess objectively due to its intrinsically subjective nature. For instance, measurement error is easy to determine in standardized testing, whereas in open-ended assessment, graders have more individual discretion and therefore are more likely to produce unfair results through unconscious bias. When the score depends upon the graders' individual preferences, then the result an individual student receives depends upon who grades the test.
More recently, standardized testing has been shaped in part, by the ease and low cost of grading of multiple-choice tests by computer. Though the process is more difficult than grading multiple-choice tests electronically, essays can also be graded by computer. In other instances, essays and other open-ended responses are graded according to a pre-determined assessment rubric by trained graders. For example, at Pearson, all essay graders have four-year university degrees, and a majority are current or former classroom teachers.
Standardized testing has been a part of American education since the 1800s, but the widespread reliance on standardized is largely a 20th-century phenomenon. For instance the College Entrance Examination Board did not begin standardized testing in connection to higher education until 1900. The College Entrance Examination Board was established and in 1901, the first examinations were administered around the country in nine subjects. This test was implemented with the idea of creating standardized admissions for the United States in northeastern elite universities. Originally, the test was also meant for top boarding school in order to standardize curriculum. With origins in World War I the Army Alpha and Beta tests developed by Robert Yerkes and colleagues. Before then, immigration in the mid-19th century contributed to the growth of standardized tests in the United States. Standardized tests were used in immigration when people first came over to test social roles and find social power and status.
Originally the standardized test was made of essays and was not intended for widespread testing. French psychologist Alfred Binet begins developing a standardized test of intelligence, work that would eventually be incorporated into a version of the modern IQ test, dubbed the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test. The College Board then designed the SAT(Scholar Aptitude Test) in 1926 for a broader IQ test. Notably, the Army IQ tests were what the first SAT test was based on in order to determine a student's intelligence, problem solving skills, and critical thinking. In 1959, Everett Lindquist offered the ACT (American College Testing) for the first time. The ACT currently includes 4 main sections with multiple choice questions to test English, mathematics, reading, and science, plus an optional writing section.
Large population state testing began in the 1970s, and in the 1980s America began to assess nationally. In 2012, together 45 states is annual spending on assessments cost $27 per student and $669 million overall. However, once test involved administrative costs were included the cost per student increased to $1100. The need for the federal government to make meaningful comparisons across a highly de-centralized (locally controlled) public education system has also contributed to the debate about standardized testing, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 that required standardized testing in public schools. U.S. Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, further ties public school funding to standardized testing. The goal of No Child Left Behind was to improve the education system in the United States by holding school and teachers accountable and attempting to close the educational gap between minority and non-minority children in public schools. Students' results on standardized tests were used to allocate funds and other resources such as teachers and administrators to schools. This policy does not provide a federal standard for schools, but allows each state to set their own standards. The Every Student Succeeds Act replaced the NCLB. It was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015. This act was created in order to revise the provisions of the NCLC in order to further allow student achievement and success.
Standardized testing is a very common way of determining a student's past academic achievement and future potential. However, high-stakes tests (whether standardized or non-standardized) can cause anxiety. When teachers or schools are rewarded for better performance on tests, then those rewards encourage teachers to "teach to the test" instead of providing a rich and broad curriculum. In 2007 a qualitative study done by Au Wayne demonstrated that standardized testing narrows the curriculum and encourages teacher-centered instruction. As a result, standardized testing has become controversial in the United States.
An additional factor to consider in regards to standardized testing in the United States education system, is the socio-economic background of the students being tested. Research has shown that children from low-income and poor families do not receive the same emphasis on education from their parents as those students from higher income families. According to the Nation Center for Children in Poverty, 41 percent of children under the age of 18 fall into the category of lower income. (Kobal, H. and Jiang, Y., 2018) This is a large percent of the student population who start behind the learning curve and require specialized attention to get to where they need to be in order to perform well on the standardized test.
The Australian National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) standardized testing was commenced in 2008 by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, an independent authority "responsible for the development of a national curriculum, a national assessment program and a national data collection and reporting program that supports 21st century learning for all Australian students".
The testing includes all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in Australian schools to be assessed using national tests. The subjects covered in these testings include Reading, Writing, Language Conventions (Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation) and Numeracy.
The program presents students level reports designed to enable parents to see their child's progress over the course of their schooling life, and help teachers to improve individual learning opportunities for their students. Students and school level data are also provided to the appropriate school system on the understanding that they can be used to target specific supports and resources to schools that need them most. Teachers and schools use this information, in conjunction with other information, to determine how well their students are performing and to identify any areas of need requiring assistance.
The concept of testing student achievement is not new, although the current Australian approach may be said to have its origins in current educational policy structures in both the USA and the UK. There are several key differences between the Australian NAPLAN and the UK and USA strategies. Schools that are found to be under-performing in the Australian context will be offered financial assistance under the current federal government policy.
Standardized testing can be composed of multiple-choice questions, true-false questions, essay questions, authentic assessments, or nearly any other form of assessment. Multiple-choice and true-false items are often chosen because they can be given and scored inexpensively, quickly, and reliably through using special answer sheets that can be read by a computer or via computer-adaptive testing. Some standardized tests have short-answer or essay writing components that are assigned a score by independent evaluators who use rubrics (rules or guidelines) and benchmark papers (examples of papers for each possible score) to determine the grade to be given to a response. Not all standardized tests involve answering questions; an authentic assessment for athletic skills could take the form of running for a set amount of time or dribbling a ball for a certain distance.
Most national and international assessments, however, are not fully evaluated by people; people are used to score items that are not able to be scored easily by computer (such as essays). For example, the Graduate Record Exam is a computer-adaptive assessment that requires no scoring by people except for the writing portion.
The term "normative assessment" refers to the process of comparing one test-taker to his or her peers. A norm-referenced test (NRT) is a type of test, assessment, or evaluation which yields an estimate of the position of the tested individual in a predefined population. The estimate is derived from the analysis of test scores and other relevant data from a sample drawn from the population. This type of test identifies whether the test taker performed better or worse than other students taking this test. A criterion-referenced test (CRT) is a style of test which uses test scores to show whether or not test takers performed well on a given task, not how well they performed compared to other test takers. Most tests and quizzes that are written by school teachers can be considered criterion-referenced tests. In this case, the objective is simply to see whether the student has learned the material.
Human scoring is relatively expensive and often variable, which is why computer scoring is preferred when feasible. For example, some critics say that poorly paid employees will score tests badly. Agreement between scorers can vary between 60 and 85 percent, depending on the test and the scoring session. Sometimes states pay to have two or more scorers read each paper; if their scores do not agree, then the paper is passed to additional scorers.
Open-ended components of tests are often only a small proportion of the test. Most commonly, a major academic test includes both human-scored and computer-scored sections.
Along with scoring the actual tests, teachers are being scored on how well their own students are performing on the tests. Teachers are faced with the incredible pressure to continuously bring scores up to be judged on whether or not they are worthy of keeping their job. There has been a lot of discussion covering how accurate of a way that to score a teachers' success because there are so many factors that go in to how well his or her students perform. In scoring how well teachers do, how is there a way in which they could find a teacher to blame it on if they are in high school or even middle school, where there is not only one teacher, but a teacher for each subject?
Often, colleges are giving scholarships to students who score well on standardized tests like the ACT or the SAT. Students' intellectual level is judged by the score they receive, but the issue is that even if a student scores well on a standardized test that gets them to college, that does not imply that the student is smart. A student can do well on the test and fail out of college. It is not the best indicator of how well a student actually performs, but how well they test.
There is a lack of oversight. Teachers are told to watch over the students and be as organized as possible when collecting and grading the tests, but there are numerous sources stating all of these instances where students, even teachers are cheating. Students have been known to somehow accommodate the answers, or during breaks, teachers are not told to watch over the conversations held; they could easily discuss questions and figure out the answers together. Teachers, more of which are in "desperate situations" find that they are changing the answers for their students themselves to make it look like they are great teachers and it would take away from the pressure they feel in raising scores. "The accountability system is whats driving [standardized testing] and it's fundamentally flawed."
|Student answers||Standardized grading||Non-standardized grading|
|Grading rubric: Answers must be marked correct if they mention at least one of the following: Germany's invasion of Poland, Japan's invasion of China, or economic issues.||No grading standards. Each teacher grades however he or she wants to, considering whatever factors the teacher chooses, such as the answer, the amount of effort, the student's academic background, language ability, or attitude.|
WWII was caused by Hitler and Germany invading Poland.
WWII was caused by multiple factors, including the Great Depression and the general economic situation, the rise of national socialism, fascism, and imperialist expansionism, and unresolved resentments related to WWI. The war in Europe began with the German invasion of Poland.
WWII was caused by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.
Either of these systems can be used in standardized testing. What is important to standardized testing is whether all students are asked equivalent questions, under equivalent circumstances, and graded equally. In a standardized test, if a given answer is correct for one student, it is correct for all students. Graders do not accept an answer as good enough for one student but reject the same answer as inadequate for another student.
The considerations of validity and reliability typically are viewed as essential elements for determining the quality of any standardized test. However, professional and practitioner associations frequently have placed these concerns within broader contexts when developing standards and making overall judgments about the quality of any standardized test as a whole within a given context.
In the field of evaluation, and in particular educational evaluation, the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation has published three sets of standards for evaluations. The Personnel Evaluation Standards was published in 1988, The Program Evaluation Standards (2nd edition) was published in 1994, and The Student Evaluation Standards was published in 2003.
Each publication presents and elaborates a set of standards for use in a variety of educational settings. The standards provide guidelines for designing, implementing, assessing and improving the identified form of evaluation. Each of the standards has been placed in one of four fundamental categories to promote educational evaluations that are proper, useful, feasible, and accurate. In these sets of standards, validity and reliability considerations are covered under the accuracy topic. The tests are aimed at ensuring that student evaluations will provide sound, accurate, and credible information about student learning and performance, however; standardized tests offer narrow information on many forms of intelligence and relying on them harms students because they inaccurately measure a student's potential for success.
In the field of psychometrics, the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing place standards about validity and reliability, along with errors of measurement and issues related to the accommodation of individuals with disabilities. The third and final major topic covers standards related to testing applications, credentialing, plus testing in program evaluation and public policy.
Standardized testing is considered important and these tests do assess what is taught on the national level. They are used to measure objectives and how schools are meeting educational state standards.
There are three primary reasons for Standardized tests: Comparing among test takers, Improvement of ongoing instruction and learning, and Evaluation of instruction.
Considering the information presented above, students undergoing the testing have been told to not spend copious amounts of their own time to study and prepare for the tests, although students believe they need to do well to ensure they don't let down their school.
Standardized tests put large amounts of pressure on students. Some children who are considered at the top of their class choke when it comes to standardized tests such as the citywide.
Parents and community activists around the country explain that the education system is failing students. Standardized testing is included in efforts to improve the education system. Standardized testing gives a detailed account of student improvement and teacher effectiveness is evaluated, which can show how the school's effectiveness sits on a national scale.
Standardized testing is used as a public policy strategy to establish stronger accountability measures for public education. While the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has served as an educational barometer for some thirty years by administering standardized tests on a regular basis to random schools throughout the United States, efforts over the last decade at the state and federal levels have mandated annual standardized test administration for all public schools across the country.
The idea behind the standardized testing policy movement is that testing is the first step to improving schools, teaching practice, and educational methods through data collection. Proponents argue that the data generated by the standardized tests act like a report card for the community, demonstrating how well local schools are performing. Critics of the movement, however, point to various discrepancies that result from current state standardized testing practices, including problems with test validity and reliability and false correlations (see Simpson's paradox).
Critics also charge that standardized tests encourage "teaching to the test" at the expense of creativity and in-depth coverage of subjects not on the test. Multiple choice tests are criticized for failing to assess skills such as writing. Furthermore, student's success is being tracked to a teacher's relative performance, making teacher advancement contingent upon a teacher's success with a student's academic performance. Ethical and economical questions arise for teachers when faced with clearly underperforming or underskilled students and a standardized test.
Critics also object to the type of material that is typically tested by schools. Although standardized tests for non-academic attributes such as the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking exist, schools rarely give standardized tests to measure initiative, creativity, imagination, curiosity, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes. Instead, the tests given by schools tend to focus less on moral or character development, and more on individual identifiable academic skills.
One of the main advantages of standardized testing is that the results can be empirically documented; therefore, the test scores can be shown to have a relative degree of validity and reliability, as well as results which are generalizable and replicable. This is often contrasted with grades on a school transcript, which are assigned by individual teachers. It may be difficult to account for differences in educational culture across schools, difficulty of a given teacher's curriculum, differences in teaching style, and techniques and biases that affect grading. This makes standardized tests useful for admissions purposes in higher education, where a school is trying to compare students from across the nation or across the world. Examples of such international benchmark tests include the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). Performance on these exams have been speculated to change based on the way standards like the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) line up with top countries across the world.
There are three metrics by which the best performing countries in the TIMMS (the "A+ countries") are measured: focus, coherence, and rigor. Focus is defined as the number of topics covered in each grade; the idea is that the fewer topics covered in each grade, the more focus can be given to each topic. The definition of coherence is adhering to a sequence of topics covered that follows the natural progression or logical structure of mathematics. The CCSSM was compared to both the current state standards and the A+ country standards. With the most number of topics covered on average, the current state standards had the lowest focus. The Common Core Standards aim to fix this discrepancy by helping educators focus on what students need to learn instead of becoming distracted by extraneous topics. They encourage educational materials to go from covering a vast array of topics in a shallow manner to a few topics in much more depth.
Standardized tests also remove teacher bias in assessment. Research shows that teachers create a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy in their assessment of students, granting those they anticipate will achieve with higher scores and giving those who they expect to fail lower grades.
Another advantage is aggregation. A well designed standardized test provides an assessment of an individual's mastery of a domain of knowledge or skill which at some level of aggregation will provide useful information. That is, while individual assessments may not be accurate enough for practical purposes, the mean scores of classes, schools, branches of a company, or other groups may well provide useful information because of the reduction of error accomplished by increasing the sample size.
Opponents claim that standardized tests are misused and uncritical judgments of intelligence and performance, but supporters argue that these aren't negatives of standardized tests, but criticisms of poorly designed testing regimes. They argue that testing should and does focus educational resources on the most important aspects of education -- imparting a pre-defined set of knowledge and skills -- and that other aspects are either less important, or should be added to the testing scheme.
With the relationship between teachers and students, the school system is advocating for the break down of communities and fostering competition. Educators are wanting to raise test scores by teaching to the test and only working on their own students. Avoiding work with fellow teachers allows for them to look better compared to the ones next to them if they do successfully raise scores, it gives room for them to shine, letting go of the idea of community. The competition gives way for an unhealthy environment that's placed in the school setting, and could be damaging to the students by limiting the information they are given, and maybe different ways to go about solving and interpreting certain questions/problems.
Standardized tests have caused the quality and depth of the educational curriculum to diminish (Rooks, Noliwe, and Noliwe Rooks). Instead of teachers developing a curriculum that addresses the needs of the actual students in their classrooms, they end up using the required material which they did not take any part in creating. The required material often contains pacing guidelines which regulate when substance should be taught and scripted lessons which often limits the teacher's abilities to make relevant decisions in a classroom. The tests have narrowed the curriculum to a lot of schools, usually squeezing out classes such as art and music simply because they are excluded in the tests, then they are wiped out of the curriculum. Teachers are then forced to teach subjects that only influence the literacy level and comprehension ability of a student and leave out the ones that often require talent or skill.
Standardized testing places a lot of stress and pressure on children and teachers. Teachers are put under a lot of stress because the better students do on the test the more federal funding that school and district will receive. This causes teachers to teach to the test rather than teach to the life skills children will use and need. In some cases, schools have shortened or removed recess so that more time can be spent preparing and practicing for the standardized tests. The pressure of this and the removal of a stress outlet, recess, means that children, along with teachers, are going to become depressed and sleep-deprived. Being depressed and sleep-deprived causes children to act out more than usual which places more stress on the teachers. Teachers do not get the results back until the end of the summer which means they will not be able to use those results to help those children because they will already be on to the next grade. Standardized tests place an unnecessary amount of stress on teachers and students without yielding any information in a timely manner.
In an April 1995 "meta-analysis" published in the Journal of Educational and Psychological Measurement, Todd Morrison and Melanie Morrison examined two dozen validity studies of the test required to get into just about any Masters or PhD program in America: the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). This study encompassed more than 5,000 test-takers over the past 30 years. The authors found that GRE scores accounted for just 6 percent of the variation in grades in graduate school. The GRE appears to be "virtually useless from a prediction standpoint," wrote the authors. Repeated studies of the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) find the same. The SAT's maker, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), now claims the SAT is not an "aptitude" test but rather an assessment of "developed abilities."
Finally, standardized tests are not inexpensive. It has been reported that the United States spends about 1.7 billion dollars annually on these tests. In 2001, it was also reported that only three companies (Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw-Hill and Riverside Publishing) design 96% of the tests taken at the state level.
Test scores are in some cases used as a sole, mandatory, or primary criterion for admissions or certification. For example, some U.S. states require high school graduation examinations. Adequate scores on these exit exams are required for high school graduation. The General Educational Development test is often used as an alternative to a high school diploma.
Other applications include tracking (deciding whether a student should be enrolled in the "fast" or "slow" version of a course) and awarding scholarships. In the United States, many colleges and universities automatically translate scores on Advanced Placement tests into college credit, satisfaction of graduation requirements, or placement in more advanced courses. Generalized tests such as the SAT or GRE are more often used as one measure among several, when making admissions decisions. Some public institutions have cutoff scores for the SAT, GPA, or class rank, for creating classes of applicants to automatically accept or reject.
Heavy reliance on standardized tests for decision-making is often controversial, for the reasons noted above. Critics often propose emphasizing cumulative or even non-numerical measures, such as classroom grades or brief individual assessments (written in prose) from teachers. Supporters argue that test scores provide a clear-cut, objective standard that serves as a valuable check on grade inflation.
The National Academy of Sciences recommends that major educational decisions not be based solely on a single test score. The use of minimum cut-scores for entrance or graduation does not imply a single standard, since test scores are nearly always combined with other minimal criteria such as number of credits, prerequisite courses, attendance, etc. Test scores are often perceived as the "sole criteria" simply because they are the most difficult, or the fulfillment of other criteria is automatically assumed. One exception to this rule is the GED, which has allowed many people to have their skills recognized even though they did not meet traditional criteria.
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