Standardized Testing: Putting Quality Assessment Practices at Risk

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In the article ‘The Test That Won’t Go Away’, Scherer states that there have been significant changes in the focus of teaching for testing and the impact this has on learning (Scherer, 2009). Standardized testing is putting quality assessment practises at risk because of the “pressure on students and teachers to improve test results” (Scherer, 2009) rather than focussing on the best practise for quality learning.

Firstly, quality assessments must serve a purpose (McMillan, 2011). Teachers should be able to clearly state why a test is being administered and what it will achieve. It is widely accepted that standardised tests have a place in the curriculum but often lack purpose for the individual (Scherer, 2009).

Secondly, measurement and the use of techniques to measure performance need to be clearly defined (McMillan, 2011). Standardised testing is traditional by nature and is limited to one form of measurement (paper or written form), this fails to capture the true knowledge students have gained as it lacks multiple opportunities to pass this type of assessment (Brookhart, 2009)

Thirdly, evaluation is the interpretation of what has been measured and demonstrated. Scherer acknowledges that standardised testing has some strengths (Scherer, 2009), namely that the evaluation or scoring criteria used for such testing is equal across all schools however this is not communicated to students in standardised testing.

The fourth key idea of quality assessment lies in how the results are used; particularly how they are used to modify teaching techniques. Once evaluation is complete teachers need to “adjust their instruction appropriately” (McMillan, 2011), using the evaluation to guide the instructional decisions.

Finally, feedback is imperative for quality assessment. Providing constructive feedback in a positive way that “encourages internal attributions” (McMillan, 2011) is key to show students that all assessment is useful for growth in learning....
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