Standardized Testing Pros and Cons List

Standardized testing is again under scrutiny following the news that the House of Delegates in Maryland approved a legislation that will put a limit to the test to only two percent classroom time each year, which is equivalent to 20 hours annually. Although one of the reasons this type of testing is being practiced is to give every student a chance to learn and compete with other students academically, there are schools that want to limit standardized testing. This has also become one of the major topics of debate in the United States.

What is Standardized Testing?

This is a form of test wherein test-takers are made to answer the same questions or be given questions from a question bank. Moreover, the scores follow a standard system that allows comparison among students when it comes to performance. Examples of standardized testing is the multiple choice test type where students from a certain level are given test questions that are also given to other students in other schools in a state or region. Other types of standardized testing are essay questions, short-answer question types or a combination of both. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of exam, according to proponents and opponents.

List of Pros of Standardized Testing

1. Fair and Objective
Advocates for standardized testing posit that this type of test is one of the best ways to assess the achievements of students for the reason that they will be answering the same questions with other test-takers. Moreover, they are also given questions in standardized format and at the same time scoring is computerized. As a result, there is no bias and assessment is done objectively. The occurrence of favoritism will be reduced as well.

2. Educational Purposes
Standardized testing is also a useful tool to determine how prepared is a child to go to school and assess their intellectual levels. By letting a young child answer standardized set of questions, it will be easier to determine if he or she is already ready to go to kindergarten class. This is also an effective way to assess if a student is in need of special education. This way, he or she can be enrolled in a special class and be given a course curriculum that is suited for his or her special education requirements.

3. Measures Educator Effectiveness
Proponents of standardized testing claim that with this type of testing, how well teachers and instructors perform their duties as educators is determined. This also shows their being effective. The scores are used as basis on whether an educator is to be rewarded or be given the consequences of not doing their jobs well.

4. Determines Achievement Gaps
People in favor of this testing type say that this system makes it easier to identify the achievements of students who come from different ethnic groups such as non-English speaking countries, etc. This also determines the intellectual level of students. With the scores being used to measure the academic level of students, instructors will be able to address certain academic needs of students as well as provide academic support and services. This will also result to public awareness.

5. Prepares Students
Supporters of standardized testing claim that the strict rules in testing centers and the increased time for preparation are advantageous to students since they become more ready for college. This also encouraged younger students to study better and achieve higher scores. With the preparation they take to pass the tests, they can apply the same techniques when they attend universities and colleges.

List of Cons of Standardized Testing

1. Misleading
Critics contend that scores on this type of testing can provide indicators that might mislead educators when it comes to evaluating students, given that the questions are limited and do not cover extensive topics. Also, with few questions used, it will not be able to determine or assess the skills and knowledge students acquire while studying. This also is too limited to identify what other lessons do students need to be taught.

2. Unfair to Non-English Speakers
Opponents of standardized testing contend that these tests are discriminatory to students with English not as the first language and to those who have special needs. As a result, students who are not so good in English, say, those immigrants who have come from a Spanish-speaking country. They will be given the same tests with other English speaking students, making it imperative for them to learn to speak and understand English. This also goes for children with special needs who will be taking the same tests with students without disabilities.

3. Time Consuming
Another setback attributed to standardized testing is the length of time needed to prepare for the exam. Critics say that this takes way time which should be used by students to learn new lessons instead of using 10% to 20% of the year for test preparation. Some schools even use vacation days to conduct test preps just so they will not be closed down. Also, in some cases, special events are overlooked because standardized testing is given priority.

4. Expensive
According to some education agencies, testing entails a lot of money and the costs are increasing as well. The money spent comes from the taxpayers and standardized testing has become a billion dollar industry. This is also because of the reported expensive and time-consuming rectification of scoring errors. Some take months for the release of results while others are late from the supposedly date of release. Also, there are students who contend low results which can also be expensive because the answers will be re-evaluated.

5. Inadequate Assessment Tool
Opponents argue that this type of test encourages students to think in the simplest way possible since there are only right and wrong answers. Moreover, there have been studies that male students are more adept in answering multiple-type questions than girls, making it bias. This type of testing also does not teach students to answer real-life questions which they can apply after they leave school.

Standardized testing had been in existence since the 1800s in the United States and is now being applied by all the states. However, it also remains to a contentious issue. What is important is for the government to re-evaluate the process and make the necessary adjustments to ensure the students will benefit from it in the future.