The Evolution of Standardized Testing and Its Divided Opinions

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What is standardized testing? It is a type of test that is used to signify objective tests that include questions such as fill in the blank, multiple-choice, true/false, or short essay. All students take the same tests with the same questions so that the scores can be compared. Computers score most parts of these tests. People that have rubrics with guidelines on how to score the answers grade questions like fill in the blank and short essay answers. The results of these tests deliver two types of standardized test score interpretations, norm-referenced tests and criterion-referenced tests (Lurie, 2000). Norm-referenced tests is used to obtain percentile rankings for a group of test takers, and criterion-referenced is used in any form and provides absolute scores (Lurie, 2000). The earliest form of standardized testing comes from China (Fletcher, 2009). These types of tests were used to examine citizens that wanted government jobs (Fletcher, 2009). It was needed to test their familiarity with Confucian philosophy and poetry (Fletcher, 2009). Before the Industrial Revolution of the Western World, testing by essays was more preferred (Fletcher, 2009). After this period of time, standardized tests became an easier method to assess large numbers of students quickly because more kids were leaving farms and factories to attend school (Fletcher, 2009). It was not until World War I did the United States start implementing standardized testing (Lurie, 2000). In 1917, the Army Mental Test was created to designate recruits to certain jobs in the army (Lurie, 2000). However, many people disagreed with it because it did not test intelligence but instead “consumer and leisure culture” (Lurie, 2000, p. 502). Soon after this, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) was created in 1926, and it was designed for college admissions to schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other exclusive schools (Lurie, 2000). Today, the SAT is considered in admissions for more than two thousand and five hundred universities and colleges (Lurie, 2000). “The test was-and still is, albeit in dramatically modified form-used to “predict” one’s success in college” (Lurie, 2000, p. 503). Aside from college admissions, standardized testing is exercised during grades K-12 in schools. It is estimated that one hundred and twenty million tests are given to K-12 students in one year (Lurie, 2000). As standardized testing becomes more popular, problems concerning its effectiveness have risen. Views about the usefulness of standardized testing are divided. Many people are uncertain about whether teachers should be assessed based on these test scores. Do these scores prove whether a teacher is good or bad? Some even believe these tests can inspire teachers to become more creative in their teaching styles. On the other hand, do standardized tests inhibit the development of critical thinking skills? There are several pros and cons on the subject of standardized tests. The pros of standardized testing suggest that this type of testing is helpful to the education of students. In an article written by Caleb Rose, he explains his findings about positive opinions of standardized testing from a focus group of teachers at an Arkansas school. From this group, Rose gathered five major themes of these tests: “(1) tests provide useful data, (2) testing and standards help create a road map for the year’s instruction, (3) testing does not discourage creativity, (4) testing aids collaboration, and (5) accountability is useful” (2010, p. 1). The first theme shows that the teachers believe the data collected from the test scores explain which concepts of certain subjects the students have mastered and which ones they did not understand (Rose, 2010). Knowing this information allowed the teachers to grasp in what area they could improve on and change (Rose, 2010). These tests abetted a “road map” for the school year curriculum (Rose, 2010, p. 1). Teachers...
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