Standardized testing is a routine part of every child’s school life. Some states even require parents to administer standardized tests to children who are home schooled. The challenge is that this type of assessment often fails to demonstrate a child’s true learning and knowledge. Explore the pros and cons to make sure that standardized testing does not fail your child.
CON – Standardized assessments are long and drawn out, taking children away from important learning time. Once the test is over, students are typically stressed and hyperactive. Teachers are often forced to give children free time or creative activities to help them calm down after a big test. This takes away even more time from an already too short school year. Many parents and educators argue that the time would be better spent providing children with more learning opportunities.
PRO – This type of assessment measures the entire student body using the exact same testing format. The results often tell teachers and administrators which teachers have been most effective in teaching the class. Adjustments to teaching strategies and curriculum can be made in response to testing results, which ensures ongoing improvement at the classroom level.
CON – Some children are not able to sit and focus long enough to take assessments. Children with behavior and emotional disorders, ADD, and ADHD are examples of students who just may not possess the self-regulation to complete the standardized test. The challenge of the test can cause stress, frustration, and encourage acting out that interferes with the performance of other students. Even when a student has special accommodations under an IEP, the testing process can still be too difficult.
PRO – Scores from standardized assessments help teachers and parents identify learning strengths and weaknesses. When children do perform well on standardized assessments, the results may help parents and teachers understand the areas of strength and weakness in each child. Some of the important information that can be revealed by such tests are learning problems, giftedness, and talent.
CON – Still other students may not do well with reading questions and producing responses that are limited to the testing format. A child who has dyslexia or a learning disability, for example, might not have the skills required to complete the test. Still other children may be challenged to respond in essay, multiple choice, and full-in-the blank format. Many children do better demonstrating what they have learned in a casual format such as an interview, class presentation, or portfolio.
Parents and teachers alike must consider the impact of testing on the child. Assessments must be chosen based on the need of the student. Schools and districts may benefit from gathering widespread results in order to track teacher performance and curriculum effectiveness. The results from assessments must be taken with a grain of salt, especially when the child shows signs of stress or inability to perform.
When parents suspect their child’s scores may not be an accurate reflection of knowledge or ability, discuss alternative assessment strategies with teachers and administrators. Rather than holding a child back based on erroneous test scores, teachers can look to alternative assessment strategies to correctly measure a child’s readiness for promotion.
If parents suspect their child may not be able to handle the standardized assessment, discuss early on in the school year with teachers and administrators. If your child has a special challenge or other health impairment that can be documented by a physician or psychologist, bring documentation to the school. If the child is significantly challenged with taking long tests, discuss with the Exceptional Student Education or Special Education Department of the school to explore whether their child qualifies for special accommodations.
Parents have the right to ask questions about what testing is right for their child. Teachers and administrators are able to answer specific questions about your child. Parents must remember that even though educators are experts on teaching, mothers and fathers are experts on their own children!
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