No doubt on the impact and role of standardized assessment as a driving force in the education sector. However, there is no universal thing that standardized testing is a good thing. Much criticism of this mode of assessing learners exists with many factors thrown in to challenge this continuing debate. Perhaps it was adapted out of the ease to many a large group of students partaking different courses or classes on a generalized or averaged statistics.
The standardized testing once saw students and teachers in schools strive to achieve the top set grades but in the recent decades there has not been much glory attributed to high performance in schools as the global trends in achievements has radically changed as well. Today, schools and teachers run by the key need of ensuring that the students can show at least minimal improvement on the standardized tests from one grade or level to another on a yearly basis. The aim for excellence rather has the bar set low hence ensuring mediocrity (Lynch 2016).
With standardized testing, there are several problematic patterns that emerge following the severe consequences from students failing to perform at the required levels in their assessments. However, the introduction of a new testing technique, the adoption by the teachers and students faces challenges as they are unfamiliar with these new formats and mostly the scores suffer a drop in this case. Might be the latter effect has been the reason for stagnation in the testing mechanisms in learning institutions for a very long time in a world that is experiencing rampant daily innovations in all sectors of development. A new testing format still gradually but eventually earns appreciation from the students and teachers and the involved units or subjects have scores increasing to the point of plateauing after which any additional efforts to improve the scores do not earn much achievement.
The first objection to standardized testing is the fact that it encourages test-oriented teaching. There are consequences on poor grades, and those implications are not pleasant. Teachers are on the verge line to produce excellent scores through their students in the bid to prove their work on the learners and no doubt many will be teaching to the test. As for the academically challenged students, much time is invested in taking them through material and concepts that are excursively examinable.
Teachers have had to at times change their teaching modes to accommodate the content included in the exams. The product of teaching to test is usually students with rote knowledge but incapable of appreciating the context of the concept. Well, improved scores in tests can lead to congratulation of the teachers but cannot guarantee the problem-solving capacity and abilities of critical thinking skills on the students’ side (Innoveteus 2017).
Standardized testing may mean having to sacrifice means for the end. Concerning educational ethics and particularly the ethical pedagogical methods some schools have had limited resources allocated to those students who may not potentially contribute significant impact to the school’s annual progress. The teachers may be inclined to put more effort and time on students just slightly off the cutoff mark hence giving less attention to those who are guaranteed of excelling their tests and those seemingly too far from the cut off mark. The implication is a bunch of students who slightly made the pass mark thereby contributing to the average class scores and indicating that the class passed well, but the underlying practices to such results are unethical and undermine the goals and morals of education.
The power of standardized testing in education is quite broad, and it goes beyond just the school scenario to corporate and governance arms of states. At the secondary school level, if one wants a particular college of choice they have to work on their grades to ensure they meet the cluster points require. Getting into an Ivy League, the effort is perhaps extraordinarily intensified. The school systems appear to be one of fat- sealing where those who do well seem to have a guaranteed a bright future ahead while it is not certain for those who do not come out of school with good grades. Some principals and superintendents may have ridden so much on such results as they may be in position depending on their students’ success in the required assessments and a reduction of scores may mean the termination of their terms regardless of supposedly other reasons being the cause of poor scores. The pressure to attain on standardized assessments cascades down to the teachers, and the students subsequently.
Various testing modes have been proposed, a simplest appropriate one, however, should be valid in that it takes into account a wholesome assessment of the learners and not just their capabilities to grasp what is taught by their teachers. The technique should not assume an existence of a linear relationship in the qualities being tested and the later in life occupational success of the members (Goslin 1967.)
There are so many factors that challenge standardized testing technique especially surrounding the learners in question. In any group of members undertaking a course or subject, there is so much bulk of potential untapped talents aside from the one expressed through test results. A testing mode should bring out the ability to critically think, freely express opinions, allow teachers to passionately impact their learners with life skills bringing out the existing teacher-student bond without chaining teachers to have to produce excellent grades after an academic year.
Achievement gaps exist in the previous standardized testing formats. The newer testing method like PARCC should engage students in less content mastery rather encourage text analysis and information synthesis capabilities. There should exist an educated society as opposed to one that passed all tests but lacks basic critical thinking skills. Teachers should not be assessed from how many excellent grades they produce but the wholesomeness of the class they taught and how attached they are to their students.
The curriculum setters, the teachers, the students, the educational ministries, and experts are the key role players in ensuring an effective testing mechanism is established and adopted in all learning institutions. Initial prototype testing can be carried out as a pilot test in a small learning campuses setup or samples of learners then the results used as a justification means for actualizing the real testing concept.
Advocacies on the same issues are already under way by some evaluation providers. The latter who give useful information to the teachers like Alberta’s Student Learning Assessment abbreviated (SLA) that he is developing following years of discussion (Giese and Alphonso 2013). It should be computer-based and, happen at the start of the school year as opposed to waiting until spring. It has its emphasis on essential skills like problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking. It is not centered on the knowledge in specific subjects. SLA’s pilot testing for Grade 3 already began in the year 2014 and then for the Grades 6 and 9happened in 2015 and 2016. It appears Alberta’s new SLA aims at addressing the many concerns of critics through broadening the meanings of student and teacher skills and capability. The techniques used are less stress-inducing and do not alienate the teachers that administer them. The results are not as clear yet as the prototype outcomes are still at analysis.
The standardized testing mechanism is not as conclusive and inappropriate format of terming success. It gives so much pressure on the parties involved and creates a deviation from the main goal of education. Other testing techniques have no soft launching pad for taking off and may need a while longer before they can be truly assimilated.
Giese, R and Alphonso, C. “The Debate Over Standardized Testing In Schools Is As Divisive As Ever.” The Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/the-debate-over-standardized- testing-in-schools-is-as-divisive-as-ever/article12299369/?page=all. Assessed 6 April 2017.
Goslin, David . “Criticism Of Standardized Tests And Testing.” Eric, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED039392. Assessed 6 April 2017.
Lynch, Mathew. “Three Important Critiques of Standardized Assessments.” Education Week, http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_futures/2016/06/three_important_critiques_of _standardized_assessments.html. Assessed 6 April 2017.
“Why Is There Criticism Against Standardized Tests?” Innovateus, http://www.innovateus.net/innopedia/why-there-criticism-against-standardized-tests. Assessed 6 April 2017.