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, and the ACT. Three kinds of standardized tests are used frequently in schools: achievement, diagnostic, and aptitude. 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. Standardized tests; however, are problematic at all ages and levels of schooling.
At first glance, the reasoning behind today’s standardized tests sounds reasonable. In theory, they give every student a solid picture of achievement and an equal opportunity for advancement in education. The problem with standardized tests is that they tend to kill off the kind of education that matters most. After years of memorization of subject matter and tests, which were once intellectually excited grade school children have become bored. Anxiety over upcoming tests and a constant concern for higher grades replaces the excitement of accomplishing real tasks and exhibiting real skills.
Reasons for caution in the use of tests include the possible loss of a student’s self esteem; the distortion of curriculum; the lowering of expectations; and both teaching and learning. Due to perceived pressures from administrators and parents, teachers may teach to the test. Some teachers let the tests guide their instruction and curriculum because they are only concerned with the student’s performance on tests. Standardized tests may or may not relate directly to what students have been taught or evoke student’s interest. Students who are cooperative learning are not allowed to talk during testing and... [continues]
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