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Standardized Testing

             Education is more controversial than (standardized) testing. Some people view it as the linchpin of serious reform and improvement, others as a menace to quality teaching and learning" (Phelps). A tool that educators use to learn about students and their learning capabilities is the standardized test. Standardized tests are designed to give a common measure of a student's performance. Popular tests include the SAT, IQ tests, Regents Exams, and the ACT. "Three kinds of standardized tests are used frequently in schools: achievement, diagnostic, and aptitude" (Woolfolk 550). Achievement tests can be used to help a teacher assess a student's strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject. Diagnostic tests are typically given to elementary school students when learning problems are suspected. Aptitude tests are designed to predict how a student will perform in the future. For example, the SAT predicts performance in the first year of college. Standardized tests give educators a standard measure or "yardstick" because such a large number of students across the country take the same test. These tests are used to tell how well school programs are doing or to give a picture of the skills and abilities of students. Standardized tests; however, are problematic at all ages and levels of schooling. Standardized aptitude tests measure students" abilities to learn in school, how well they are likely to succeed in future education. Rather than measuring knowledge of subjects taught in school, these tests measure a broad range of abilities or skills that are considered important to succeed in school. The classroom setting and teacher are the key to assessment. "Pressure to produce higher scores leads teachers to focus on material that will be covered by the tests and to exclude everything else. The curriculum is thereby narrowed, which means that some subjects are ignored. Within those that are taught, lower order thinking skills are emphasized.

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