Usefulness of Standardized Testing in Elementary Schools

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Standardized tests are designed to be given under specified and controlled conditions and are used to compare the abilities and skills of students from different regions. They are also used to determine the knowledge a student has acquired over a certain period of time. Additionally, government officials use standardized tests to determine the amount of funding that a school receives each year. Although these tests evaluate school performance and student education well, they contain a bias and for that reason, are useless in measuring a child’s intelligence and allocate too much power in decision-making to administrators.

Test creators go through an extensive process to determine what standards should be evaluated and the format in which they will be tested. There has to be a certain level of objectivity. Because this country in particular is so culturally diverse, it is nearly impossible to create a test that is impartial to all different social and economic backgrounds. Try as they might not to, these tests do contain a bias in nearly all the multiple choice questions given. Four to five answer choices may be prearranged and a computer will only mark one correct, but in a specific cultural setting the “wrong” answer could be the “correct” one. For example, a question that reads “What happens on the Fourth of July?” may be confusing for a child whose background is not from the United States. A student with American parents and traditions will “correctly” answer that it is Independence Day and fireworks are set off. A child with a Mexican or Vietnamese background, however, will not know the answer to this because this is a question based on social practices. One may argue that this type of information is exactly what students learn in the history books and should be tested on but the way in which the questions are phrased may complicate a student’s thoughts. In other cases, questions reference religious events such as Christmas and Hanukkah while others...
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