Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 14/14.8.2

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The Bubble Test-Friend or Foe?
By: Hillary Childress
Hayley - younger sister.JPG

Learning Targets

  • After reading this article the reader will have gained knowledge about what standardized testing is and the drawbacks it not only brings to students but as well as the teachers. The article will also present other affective methods of assessing students.

A little History[edit]

Standardized tests are given from 3rd grade all the way through 12th grade, and for some students, as well as the teachers that are required to give them, when presented with these tests they are filled with a feeling of anxiety and fear. What is a standardized test? The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory defines a standardized test as “one that is administered under standardized or controlled conditions that specify where, when, how, and for how long children may respond to the questions or prompts” (Learning Point Associates). Standardized tests have been required in the United States since 1965 when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as ESEA) was passed. This act gave federal funds to public school, to make sure the money was being put to good use the government mandated that schools give standardized test (Popham). Then with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) passed in 2002 has put more pressure on public schools regarding standardized tests scores. The NCLB states that teachers of core academic subjects in a school that receives federal funds, must be highly qualified (American Federation of teachers). The state and federal government can determine what they feel is highly qualified by standardized test scores, if a school performs under average for consecutive years that school is in danger of losing federal funds. Does standardized testing really measure how well a school or teacher is doing their job? The answer is no. There are several reasons why standardized tests should no longer be used to assess a student’s understanding of material.

Teaching for the Test[edit]

The phrase “teaching for the test” simply means that teachers teach curriculum that is likely to appear on a standardized test and drill this information into their students (The Center for Public Education). This can lead to students simply memorizing the information instead of learning and therefor retaining the material even after the test has been given. This can also lead to narrower curriculum and excluding material that while vital is not tested. There is also the fear of devoting to much classroom time to prepping for the tests which can produce severely stressed students as well as teachers (The Center for Public Education). With so much pressure being placed on students and teachers to succeeed what happens to creativity in the classroom?

Creativity Crisis[edit]

When teachers have to worry about meeting test standards and have to teach for the test, creativity gets put on the backburner and with it is a child’s excitement to learn. When a teacher whether it be a new or experienced, are handed a large binder at the beginning of the year with the curriculum that needs to be taught, it can be overwhelming. Creativity sparks interest into students; with so much time is monopolized by preparing for the tests, teachers have little time to come up with creative lesson plans.

Test Anxiety Attack[edit]

Clarkson College defines test anxiety as “being so afraid or worried about a test that performance suffers” (Clarkson College). Some symptoms of test taking anxiety are; increased heart rate,dizziness,sweating,stomach or head ache, feelings of low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and there are many other(Zbordnik) The fear can be so strong that no matter how long the student spent preparing for the test, once the students looks at the test, all previous knowledge is forgotten. The TestEdge National Demonstration Study reported on the Institute of HeartMath site, stated that 61% of high school students suffer from test anxiety and from 61%, 26% are handicapped by their anxiety. This information shows that perhaps students should be assessed by using one or many of other assessment methods.


There are many reasons as to why standardized tests are not the best form of assessment and this article has only scratched the surface as to why. Standardized test are not the only form of assessing someone’s knowledge and we should explore the other methods of assessment.

"An Education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't"

Quoted from Anatole France from .

=Test your Knowledge=

1. How many High School students suffer from test anxiety?


2. When was ESEA passed?


3. Mrs. Martin is teaching the exact curriculum that was tested on a previous SOL test. Mrs. Martin is doing what?

     *A.Teaching the test 
     *B.Preparing her students properly for the test
     *C.Test teaching
     *D.Teaching for the test

4. When Charlie is handed his test he starts panicking and can remember anything he has learned. What is Charlie suffering from?

     *A.Test Anxiety
     *B.Anxiety of tests
     *C.He is just worrying too much
     *D.All of the above

Cheat Sheet[edit]

  • 1. C
  • 2. A
  • 3. D
  • 4. A


Gross, P. (2005).Is Creativity Being Left Behind. Retrieved March 21, 2009, bnet. Website:

France, A. (1997).Education-Quotes. Retrieved March 22, 2009, ETNI-English Teachers Network.Website:

Popham, J.W. (2009).F for Assessment: Standardized Test Fails. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from Edutopia: The George Lucas Educational Foundation. Website:

Zbornik, J. (2001). Test Anxiety: Conceptualization and Remediation Strategies. Retrieved March 21, 2009, American Psychiatric Association. Website:

(2003).Meeting NCLB’s Highly Qualifified Guidelines. Retrieved March 21, 2009, The American Federation of Teachers. Website:

(2006). Research Q and A: Standardized Tests and their impact on Schooling. Retrieved March 21, 2009, The Center for Public Education. Website:

(2009). Solutions for Stress: Overcoming Test Anxiety. Retrieved March 21, 2009, Institute of HeartMath. Website:

Standardized Test. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from Learning Point Associates. Website:

(2005).Test Taking Anxiety. Retrieved March 21, 2009, Clarkson College. Website:

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