Standardized tests are those tests in which students are required to tackle similar questions or answer a selection from a bank of questions. Consequently, these students are awarded consistently, thereby making it possible for school administration and other interested stakeholders to compare students' performance. In the United States, both public and private schools use standardized testing each year. Public schools even move further to give students additional assessments to examine whether they are meeting state and federal requirements. The use of standardized tests in schools has aroused a great debate, with many parents holding that their children should not be judged based on tests and other education stakeholders highlighting the significance of standardized assessments. Nevertheless, standardized testing affect student success negatively because test scores can adversely impact confidence, it creates pressure to teach to test, it is unfair to some students, and student's true capability is ignored.
Test scores can impact confidence, and this is usually the case because standardized testing makes it easy to judge the ability of a student based on how they have scored. The score is only a number and should, therefore, be one of the many assessment criteria that should be used to evaluate the ability of students. However, this is not usually the case because, in most times, these test scores are used as the sole judgment of students' abilities (Riffert 240). It is evident that many students have a concise understanding of a subject or a concept, but it is hard for them to answer multiple-choice topics on the same concept or subject. It becomes hard for students who feel that they did not perform as they would have liked. In a worst-case scenario, these students gauge their success based on such tests instead of reviewing all the assessment data with their teachers, which negatively impacts their confidence, which affects their future success. Standardized tests affect students' performance adversely because they increase the pressure to teach to the test. At times, standardized exams become all-important in a school or a district, and this has a high impact on learning and teaching because educators teach to the test (Riffert 234). There are cases where teachers and educators are fired because of performance, and this performance is solely based on the test scores of their students. For instance, Joyce Irvine was the principal of Wheeler Elementary School in Burlington, Vermont, from 2004 to 2010. In 2010, Irvine served a disadvantaged population where 37 out of 39 students in the fifth grade were special students or refugees
However, he came with initiatives, including enrichment programs, and that year. She was hailed a leader in her school. It was the same year that she was fired because of low test scores (Strauss). It is the same situation in many schools where to avoid the same fate; they focus on teaching to the test instead of empowering the students. Educators and teachers who feel that their good deeds will not count, focus on what will make their students pass. It comes at the cost of creativity, engagement, and risk-taking, and this usually affects students' performance. For instance, the students will not have a chance to learn a new method of solving a mathematical problem, which they might find easier to understand because the teacher will not risk a new method for fear of failing to attain test scores.
Standardized test scores are disadvantaging to some students, and this, in turn, negatively affects the success of the affected students. Usually, students take the same standardized tests, and they are evaluated in the same way, and this means that these exams, at times, have inherent biases that may disadvantage. Usually, students take the same standardized tests, and they are evaluated in the same way, and this means that these exams, at times, have inherent biases that may disadvantage certain groups. In the context of the United States, students of color are somehow disadvantaged in standardized tests compared to their native counterparts (Dotson, and Foley 295). For instance, some are not proficient in English are unfairly treated because they are tested using a language they are not proficient with. In other instances, these students are unfamiliar with the American cultural conventions. For instance, they are from a Spanish heritage, but they are tested using American conventions. It affects not only their performance but also success in future studies.
Test scores do not portray the real picture of a student's ability but only t their intellectual ability. A child's success is not entirely dependent on their intellectual ability because other factors may come to play. For instance, students might suffer from anxiety when they are doing their tests, and in this case, it is wrong to rule that a student that scores lowly lacks knowledge on the subject or topic (Dotson and Foley 295). People assume that a student who scores highly in mathematics is good at reasoning abstractly and processing information, but this is not usually the case. Research shows that there is a low correlation between high standardized scores and memory, attention, and processing speed (Lubinski 356). Therefore, the success of a student is negatively affected when it is gauged only on a specific perspective, and this is usually the case when standardized tests are in question.
Nevertheless, standardized tests may affect students' success positively. It is the case because, at times, they could be used to pinpoint areas of weaknesses in students, and in this way, teachers could help the students to improve these areas. At the same time, schools could use the same scores to assess the effectiveness of their education programs (Meyer and Paxson 2). Additionally, these schools could compare the test scores with those of other students from other schools to gauge how well they are doing in their educational continuum and, at the same time, determine where they need to invest more time and resources. It is also through standardized test scores can a school be able to evaluate progress, including year to year internal comparisons. For instance, an institution might compare data related to performance scores over the last five years, and this facilitates its actions of tracing changes back to its source. If the performance of fourth-grade students in math scores rise abruptly, then the institution and educators can identify the changes that led to this improvement. Therefore, the school can implement these changes within their curriculum and therefore contribute towards the overall success of students in school.
The evidence above indicates that standardized tests do more harm than good to students' success. Although it facilitates pinpointing areas of weaknesses that need improvement among students, it disadvantages students, specifically those of colors. Also, these tests might adversely impact on the confidence of a student, limiting his future success. Additionally, they put pressure on teachers who turn to teach to the test at the disadvantage of students. At the same time, these tests fail to portray the real picture of the ability of a student because of concentrating solely on intellectual capability. Educators must conduct both external and internal assessments to measure the success of students. Schools must understand that standardized tests are only useful if they are used to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Dotson, Lauren, and Virginia Foley. "Common Core, Socioeconomic Status, and Middle-Level Student Achievement: Implications for Teacher Preparation Programs in Higher Education". Journal of Education and Learning, vol 6, no. 4, 2017, p. 294. Canadian Center Of Science And Education, doi:10.5539/jel.v6n4p294. Accessed 11 Apr 2020.
Lubinski, David. "Exceptional Cognitive Ability: The Phenotype". Behavior Genetics, vol 39, no. 4, 2009, pp. 350-358. Springer Science And Business Media LLC, doi:10.1007/s10519-009-9273-0. Accessed 11 Apr 2020.
Meyer, Barbara, and Christine Paxson. "The Double-Edged Sword of Standardized Testing". Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, vol 12, no. 9, 2019, pp. 1-22. Wiley.
Riffert, Franz. "The Use and Misuse of Standardized Testing: A Whiteheadian Point Of View". Interchange, vol 36, no. 1-2, 2015, pp. 231-252. Springer Science And Business Media LLC, doi:10.1007/s10780-005-2360-0.
Strauss, Valerie. Analysis | How a Fabulous Principal Lost Her Job - and More Damage the Misuse of Test Scores Has Caused. 5 Oct. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/10/05/how-a-fabulous-principal-lost-her-job-and-more-damage-the-misuse-of-test-scores-has-caused/.
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