One factor that makes American education unique is the implementation of standardized testing that may be unfamiliar to international students. There are controversies concerning standardized testing cons and pros. Many people doubted the accuracy of the test in measuring the students’ performance and teachers’ efficiency. Others find it biased because there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all method to assess academic achievement. Regardless of the different opinions, let us examine what are the pros and cons of standardized testing.
What is the Main Purpose of Standardized Testing?
First, let us determine what a standardized test is? This test is consistently provided to the students. It comes with similar questions. Each student is also given the same time to answer and finish the test. The way the test is scored is also identical for all learners.
In the United States, standardized tests are already given starting in elementary. As soon as you reach high school, you must determine whether to take the SAT or ACT – these are standardized tests to evaluate the students’ preparedness for college.
When you finish your bachelor’s degree, and you plan to proceed to graduate school, you must still take the standardized test for a graduate degree, such as the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, and GRE. There are other purposes of standardized testing in different education areas, which are the following:
- Course placement– this helps you decide what course or level of the course you should take.
- Curriculum-based End-of-Course Testing – determines if you have learned and met the objectives at the end of the course.
- Exit Testing– this measures the students’ learning and whether you are qualified to graduate and proceed to the next level of education.
- Course Credit Testing– this determines the course content knowledge of the students if you are qualified to have credit for a course even if you didn’t take it.
What are the Pros of Standardized Testing?
What are the benefits of standardized testing? There are many controversies about the use of standardized testing. However, it still proves its benefits, which are presented below:
It serves as the golden standard for students’ assessment.
The test is fair and uniform for all learners. The test has consistency in formulating questions, administering the test, scoring, and interpreting the results. In this process, the test becomes a basis for performance standards among learners. Thereby, there is fairness and accountability. Specifically, to the:
Students – there is uniformity in the performance measurement and data comparison of the individual tests as a performance standard.
Teachers – standardized testing serves as an instructional framework for teachers because this will determine the effectiveness of the instructional materials and the teaching methods they employ with the students.
Parents – the result of the test lets the parents know how their children perform academically through a percentile rating.
Schools – the overall result is an excellent basis for assessing school standards. The school can be held liable and investigated when there is a consistent failing mark among the students.
It gives room for improvement.
The test result will let the students, teachers, schools, and parents determine if there is a need for improvement.
Students – they will know which subjects they need to focus on in their studies. On the other hand, this will also give them a sense of fulfillment because they will know their ability to answer the materials used on the standardized test. Knowing where they stand will also allow them to correct their learning inadequacy.
Teachers – they will determine their teaching effectiveness. If the students consistently receive failing marks, this warns the teachers that they will let them review their methods of teaching as well as the instructional materials used.
The standardized test will also guide the teachers about the specific subjects they need to improve. Thus, they can accurately use the suitable instructional materials while eliminating those which are not effective; the overall result, there will be less wasted time for both teachers and students.
Parents – they will know where their children stand in the school and nationwide because a comparison of students in various schools, districts, and states are made possible through standardized testing. Parents can then make sound judgments and choose the best school for their children.
Schools – the test holds the school accountable. The test results become public, which is why the school should set and maintain high-quality standards for them to produce quality graduates. When the school keeps failing marks during the standardized test, they may be asked to close the institution. Thus, they are mandated to provide quality education to the students.
It maintains quality education.
Because everyone knows that there is standardized testing, it maintains quality education.
Students – they will concentrate on their studies. They know they must take the standardized test at each level to determine if they are qualified to proceed to the next level. Seeing that they perform well based on the standardized test result will motivate them to do more in their studies. They may create a study habit as early as during their primary school until they become well-prepared for college.
Teachers – the teachers will recognize their strengths and weakness in teaching their students. The test will also motivate them to keep improving through continuous education and training to become equipped with knowledge and skills. When the teachers are efficient, it will also yield positive outcomes like producing impressive students.
Parents – the standardized test will help the parents guide their children to study well by constantly reminding them about the test. Aside from that, parents tend to give the best resources to ensure their children will get high scores on standardized tests.
Schools – this will let them constantly do reviews and revisions of the instructional materials and methods of teaching to ensure quality. Besides, the schools’ credibility relies on standardized test results. Thus, they will indeed aim to be on top of all schools.
What are the Cons of Standardized Testing?
While there are many advantages to standardized testing, there are also some drawbacks which are mentioned below:
It does not measure comprehensive students’ performance.
Some students excel well in the classroom but do not reach the top in a standardized test. The test is conducted in one day only. Thus, it does not cover the complete concepts determining the students’ performance. It does not include all the internal and external factors, which may not effectively assess the students’ performance.
Some argue that it does not measure the students’ overall progress over the year. That’s why people suggest measuring the overall improvement of the students rather than just relying on a single test assessment.
It puts limitations.
The test may limit the teachers to teach based on the exam only. Thus, this hinders the teachers from being resourceful and creative in teaching, limiting the students’ ability to learn. It can be unfair for teachers who seriously prepare for the students’ exams but do not reach a proficient score.
Because the teachers are expected to prepare their students for the exam, they may neglect to teach other skills and concepts beyond the exam. Thus, when the teachers have limitations in their teaching, the students will also receive limited learning.
It brings a lot of stress and anxiety.
The teachers spend so much time preparing the instructional materials, reviews, and strategies for the students to achieve proficient scores during the standardized test. Some teachers quit the profession due to anxiety, pressure, and stress.
Students also experience stress and anxiety when studying and aim for high scores. Some students may even dislike going to school because of standardized tests. Because of this experience, their confidence is affected.
It leads to unhealthy competition.
The standardized test affects the relationship of one school to another because they compete for funds, which leads to unhealthy competition. Federal funds are granted only to high-performing schools. Public schools are pressured to prepare for standardized tests. If they don’t have high scores, they may not be able to receive the federal support needed for school operations. Moreover, other people claim that politicians use standardized test results for their political motives because of federal funding.
What Does the Research Say About Standardized Testing?
Many research studies support the impact of standardized tests. According to the study by Brown and Hattie (2012), standardized tests can improve teaching and the quality of education. It can also provide accurate interpretations to teachers and students. Hence, it is needed to provide reliability, validity, and calibration. This study is also supported by the study of Stout (2021), in which both standardized testing and standards are necessary to make education effective.
However, other studies oppose the claims mentioned above. Although the standardized test is necessary and effective, it needs to change its policy, the character of the tests, and the procedures during the test administration (Benjamin and Pashler, 2015, & Charlesworth, Fleege & Weitman, 2010). Standardized testing can have detrimental effects on students’ long-term learning (Rapposelli, 2021). In addition, educators and policymakers should also consider alternative testing (Jackson, 2021, Rapposelli, 2021, & Charlesworth, Fleege & Weitman, 2010).
Is Standardized Testing Really Required?
The standardized test has excellent objectives for students, teachers, parents, and schools. It measures the students’ knowledge and skills and whether they meet the standards. Because there is uniformity in the formulation of the questions, administration to students, and scoring, it is highly effective. Thus, it also provides an overview of the schools’ educational standards and teachers’ effectiveness.
While there are many arguments about the standardized test, it continues to serve its purpose in the educational system in the United States. It is a policy that everybody must adhere to. If there are drawbacks, let us wait and hope for the policymakers to consider another alternative testing that would measure not only the students’ performance but also the overall educational growth of the learners.
Wrapping Things Up: What are the Pros and Cons of Standardized Testing?
You may have heard about the types of standardized tests, the pros and cons of standardized testing for college admissions, and the controversies. However, there is a high possibility that you may take a few of them throughout your education.
Its advantages are the following:
- Standardized tests serve as the golden standard for student assessment.
- It gives more room for improvement.
- It ensures quality education.
Its setbacks are:
- It does not measure comprehensive students’ performance.
- It puts limitations.
- It brings a lot of stress and anxiety.
- It leads to unhealthy competition.
Lastly, you may pass the standardized test by being knowledgeable through a serious study of the subjects and proper preparation before the exam. At the same time, the school and the teachers will also prepare by putting extra effort into the instructional materials and teaching methods. With cooperation among students, teachers, school administrators, and parents, no standardized tests can hinder the learners’ success.