Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Standardized Testing/Against

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The Negative Aspects of Standardized Testing

By: Kathryn Morris

Learning Targets[edit | edit source]

By reading this article, the reader should gain an understanding about the negative problems that standardized testing creates. They should learn about how students do not gain the in depth educational value from the multiple choice questions on these tests that they would from other types of assessments. The reader will also learn about the limitations that standardized tests place on the curriculum taught to students by the teachers, as well as the biases that these tests can have. Finally, the reader will learn about the anxiety created by these tests for students and teachers due to the adequate yearly progress that is mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Standardized testing has become a prevalent normality in the public schools in the United States due to the standards put into place by the No Child Left Behind Act. Public schools all over the country are reliant on the scores from these tests given to their children. Because of No Child Left Behind, every student in third grade to twelfth grade must be tested by state standardized tests. While these tests can be used by the state and national government to determine whether or not schools are meeting their specified adequate yearly progress or not, there are also many negative aspects of these tests.

Important Information About Standardized Tests for Parents


Family Education

Memorization vs. Evaluation[edit | edit source]

By making students take standardized tests, they are not required to apply their knowledge of the information that has been taught to them by their teachers. To save time and money, most of these tests that are given to students consist of only multiple choice questions (Winerip, 2006). With this type of test they simply have to recall information and memorize facts that they know will appear on the tests. Multiple choice questions do not require them to apply or evaluate the information they learned (Winerip, 2006). While multiple choice standardized tests may be good for the states because they save time and money, they may not be the most beneficial to the students taking them for their educational future.

Limited Curriculum[edit | edit source]

Standardized tests can also be detrimental to teachers who are educating the children. The curriculum that they are required to teach is severely limited to the material that they are told will be on the test. This practice of teaching is referred to as “teaching to the test” because the educators do not get much of a chance to teach other pertinent information (National Center for Fair and Open Testing, 2007). Because of the pressure placed onto the teachers for their students to do well on these tests, they are forced to allow ample time for the children to learn this specified material. This does not allow much time, if any, for the teachers to expand the curriculum to teach material that may be more interesting or fun for the children. Creative and interesting teaching methods are halted so that only material tested on standardized tests is taught to the children (National Center for Fair and Open Testing, 2007). Some teachers are now quitting their jobs due to the unhappiness that they are experiencing caused by testing (Solley, 2007).

Test Anxiety[edit | edit source]

It is no secret that taking tests can severely increase student's anxiety. Now, students have severe pressure placed onto them to perform well on these standardized tests, so their anxiety increases (Solley, 2007). Beginning in third grade, students know that they are required to do well on these tests and therefore may have great anxiety before the tests (Phillips, 2006). According to the Washington Post, researchers have found that test anxiety affects about 25% of American students today to various degrees (Can Exam Anxiety Be Overcome?, 2004). They have said that the majority of these children are in 3rd to 5th grade. These children may be fearful that they will not meet the requirements to pass the test, which would in turn be detrimental to their educational careers.

Biased Tests[edit | edit source]

These tests given to students could also be very biased. For the most part, questions on standardized tests are written on the norms of white, middle class Americans (Phillips, 2006). Students falling into other categories than these, such as African-Americans, Asians, and those living in poverty, could be at a disadvantage when it comes to answering certain questions. Students who are English language learners, or ELL's could also be at a disadvantage because of the fact that English is not their first language, so language proficiency becomes an issue with them successfully completing the test (Phillips, 2006)

Examples of Standardized Tests

Virginia SOL Grade 3 Reading Test, Spring 2007

State Requirements, Virginia Standards of Learning, By Grade Level

Standardized Testing Example[edit | edit source]

The sites listed above in the box provide examples of the state of Virginia's standardized test given to all students beginning in third grade. While each state has its own name for their test, Virginia's is called the Standards of Learning. Each year, the state department of education releases tests for students and teachers to use as a guide in preparing for future tests. The first link is to the actual released test for third grade reading from the spring of 2007.

The second link is to the Virginia Department of Education's SOL website. Here, you will find all of the standards that are listed by the state that could possibly be covered on the tests. These lists are what the teachers go by in order to teach the correct curriculum to their students.

Test Your Knowledge[edit | edit source]


1 In what grade must students begin to take federally mandated standardized tests. according to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002?

I. Multiple choice questions provide students challenging questions that determines whether or not students fully can apply the material learned.

II. Multiple choice questions allow States and testmakers to save time on grading responses and making difficult test questions, respectively.

III. Multiple choice questions make it possible to save money by using electronic devices as opposed to real people who understand the material.

2 According to the given statements above, why does the government support the use of multiple choice standardized tests rather than the essay and short answer format?

I only.
II only.
III only.
Both II and III only.
I, II, and III.

3 According to the Washington Post, about how many students are affected by test anxiety?

percent of students in the

rd and 5th grade.

4 Mrs. Smith teaches a fourth grade social studies class in the state of Virginia. Her expertise is the American Civil War, in particular the battles that took place in the state of Virginia. Mrs. Smith would like to teach her students a specialized, in depth lesson about the first and second battles of Bull Run, however she cannot do so due to the time constraints coming mainly from what principle?

Fair Education Act
"teaching to the test"
"Keep History Simple"
Teacher Protection Act
No Child Left Behind Act

5 Kris encounters bias while taking a standardized test. Kris is originally from Korea. If Kris was asked to choose the best answer for something he could eat between dog, frame, cow, or book. He has difficulty choosing between the dog and the cow because, in Korea, eating dog is acceptable. Which type of bias does Kris face in this situation?

Cultural Bias.
Racial Bias.
Gender Bias.
Educational Bias.
Substitution Bias.