Tests are a way to determine whether students are learning what they are expected to learn or not. Assessment/testing is an integral part of the education system, as it determines whether the goals of education are being met or not.
It can be argued that no serious study is possible without testing is the best way of judging the capabilities and progress of a student.
A standardized test is a method of assessment that relies on the principle of consistency in which all test takers are required to answer the same questions and all answers are graded in the same, standard way. Standardized tests are also known as assessments.
Standardized testing is a practical way to determine the academic achievement and potential of students. The term is often reserved for large-scale tests that are administered to students in which the Score result for each student is then compared to the rest of the group to see how well the students performed.
Standardized tests are different from teacher-made tests because they are not specific to any topic or activity from the course rather standardized tests provide more of a general overview of what students should know at a particular grade level. Some examples of standardized tests are the aptitude test, intelligence test, language test, etc.
In the USA, American students begin taking a standardized test in primary school. Once students are in high school and considering attending college or university, they will have to take either SAT or ACT, which are standardized tests that are used to determine students’ academic readiness for higher education.
Standardized tests allow educators to compare class and student progress across a wide geographical area and are often thought to be the fairest and objective format of large-scale testing due to the consistency in questions asked and grading system. These tests can also be carried out in online classes or distance education systems.
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A Brief History
The earliest known standardized tests were practised in China, where government job aspirants had to give examinations testing their knowledge on Confucian philosophy and poetry. As the industrial revolution took kids from factories and farms and put them in schools, standardized tests emerged as a great medium for testing a pool of students efficiently in a short amount of time.
From 1875 through the end of World War I, standardized tests were developed to determine student preparation for college. Later in 1890, the president of Harvard College proposed a national entrance exam for American colleges. A great psychologist Alfred Binet in 1905, developed the IQ test, which was a standardized test of intelligence popularly known as, The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test.
The Army Alpha and Beta Tests, developed during World War I to sort soldiers by their mental abilities, became a model for the schools. From 1900 to 1932, various high school tests, vocational tests, and even athletic assessments emerged.
The SAT and the ACT are by far the most famous standardized tests today. College Board created the Scholastic Aptitude Test (“SAT”) in 1926. The test had about 300 questions that tested vocabulary and basic mathematics. In 1959, E.F.
Lindquist created the American College Testing (“ACT”) as a competitor test to the SAT. In addition to math ACT also tested reading English skills, scientific facts and included questions based on student’s interests.
GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT are some popular standardized tests. Millions of students from all over the world give these tests yearly to get admission to various educational institutes. Most of the scholarships are given based on standardized tests.
Benefits of Standardized Tests
Here are some benefits of a standardized testing system
1. The Testing is Standard
Standardized tests are carefully constructed tests that have uniformity of procedure in scoring, administering, and interpreting the test results. All students are provided with the same tests and scored consistently, in a standard manner, to make it possible to compare the results of individual tests as a performance standard.
2. Useful Assessment Tool
Standardized testing is being used as an effective way to determine whether or not a student is prepared to go to school/college based on an intellectual level. Since the test is standard and is taken among a pool of students of a certain level, it becomes easier to determine if a student is eligible enough for another level.
3. Not Biased
Most of the standardized tests are computer-based which means the computer handles all the grading and all other tasks hence there is no influence of a teacher on the exam. In other testing systems teaches have the power to change the results but with the computerized system, students get what they have written in the test –no other things are taken into considerations.
4. Pinpoints Area of Improvement
The test results of a standardized test can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of our education program. The standardized test data reflects the students’ performance and also reflects our education system and points out the weak points and suggests where to invest more time and resources.
5. Allows for Comparison
Educators can compare the results of examinations within the school or even compare it to other schools. We can compare our students to their peers at other schools to determine what we’re doing well within our education and it helps to pinpoint the weakness. Teachers can access areas of improvement and work on them to get improved performance.
6. Quick Process
Advanced forms of standardized testing, such as the ACT, are administered on a single day. As most of the standardized tests are computer-based hence the test is completed within a few days and test results are prepared more quickly. Within a short amount of time parents and teachers get to know about students’ progress and easily identify the students who need remediation or advancement.
7. Positive Impact on Student
According to a study, it is found that over 90% of students have found that standardized tests have a positive effect on their achievement. Students can identify their proficiency levels and based on which they can work on the weak spots and work on them. Even if a perfect score isn’t achieved, knowing where a student stands helps them be able to address learning deficits.
8. Train Students
With the practice of standardized tests, students will be more prepared once they sit for college entrance exams. Preparations for these tests are both done in school and at home, giving students more resources and materials to pass the test.
After going through all the benefits, we can say that standardized tests are the most valid and reliable testing system. Because everyone gets the same test and the same grading system, standardized tests are often perceived as being fairer than non-standardized tests.
Standardized tests not only checks the student progress but also helps to pinpoint areas of improvement hence has a positive impact on students’ performance. Standardized tests are the most useful way of student evaluation and must be seen as additional data points that can provide some perspective on student learning rather than value judgment on students.