Standardized Testing: Friend or Foe?
So Much Pressure!
Standardized tests put a big pressure on students. It seems as if you are constantly hearing teachers refer to their lessons as important ones because these questions are found on the "citywide". Some children who are considered at the top of their class choke when it comes to standardized tests such as the citywide. I feel that the heaviness on children is just too much.
It is as if the students are put on the spot to study as hard as they can for those few weeks before an important city or state test. After the test though, the pressure is relieved and students can resume their normal studies. Understandably, these types of tests are used to track students and understand what standards the children are meeting. The idea that children must be stressed over a few tests seems absurd to me.
Even high school students act abnormally around SAT time. The pressure is on and if they believe that if they do not receive the best grade, they will never get into college. I have seen many students take the SAT several times, each time hoping for just five points higher. I was one of those students and believe me at times the stress is unbearable.
Other Options for Assessment
Are there other options available to assess the academic performance of students? In recent times several other various types of assessments have developed or come out of the woodwork. Some of these tools include multiple assessment methods and performance based assessments which both include my favorite alternative the portfolio.
The portfolio includes an organized compilation of the academic work the student has done. This collection of academic accomplishments shows off various skills and levels. Each piece of work is carefully chosen to be in the portfolio based on purpose and progress. Academic work can include but is not limited to journal entries, reports, poetry, test results, art, self-assessments, and videotapes. The teacher chooses the work which best demonstrates student’s ability and achievements.
Portfolios have both strengths and weaknesses. Strengths includes an all-inclusive collection of the student's work which shows various abilities, accomplishments, and skills; portfolios allow for students to self-reflect on their own academic work; enables students to think decisively; and sets up a way to help show students their progress and what they need to improve in.
On the other hand, the weakness of portfolios include time consumption, reliability is lower than standard tests, and they are on the expensive side as well. Even with these weaknesses though, most educational psychologists and educational organizations support portfolios as an assessment option.
Disregard Standardized Tests?
I am not saying disregard standardized tests altogether. What I am getting at is that the pressure of these tests can not be too intense. The significance of these standardized tests should be known well before hand. The pressure should not be put on the student at the last minute. The children should know and understand that it is only a test and if they do not do well it is not the end of the world. These tests are not meant to mark a child’s intellectual ability for the rest of his or her life and the children should know this.
I would also include other methods for evaluating students academic abilities such as the portfolio during evaluation and assessments. If students can be evaluated on more than the standardized tests I believe not only pressure would be lifted off the students in regards to testing but this may also lead students to get better test grades, as the pressure is off.