Friday, June 15, 2007

The Utility of Standardized Tests

How do you feel about standardized tests?

When they are well written and properly interpreted, standardized tests can be an excellent way to measure students' mastery of many kinds of content and skills (though not all). These objective tests can increase the fairness of student assessment by establishing a scoring system that does not suffer from grader subjectivity, which could potentially hide poor achievement, masking problems instead of revealing growth. The power and utility of standardized tests increases greatly when the results can be used to target future instruction to specific areas in which students have not yet mastered all of the desired concepts and skills. While students do need to have some familiarity with the test-taking system, I am not at all a fan of spending exorbitant amounts of time on test taking skills or strategies. Rather, instructional time should focus on the curriculum that the standardized test is intended to cover, and provided that the test is well constructed, students who master the content in the curriculum will very likely master the standardized test as well.

No comments: