The Problem with Standardized Achievement Tests
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Brought to FEN by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Educators are experiencing almost relentless pressure to show their effectiveness. Unfortunately, the chief indicator by which most communities judge a school staff's success is student performance on standardized achievement tests.
These days, if a school's standardized test scores are high, people think the school's staff is effective. If a school's standardized test scores are low, they see the school's staff as ineffective. In either case, because educational quality is being measured by the wrong yardstick, those evaluations are apt to be in error.
One of the chief reasons that students' standardized test scores continue to be the most important factor in evaluating a school is deceptively simple. Most educators do not really understand why a standardized test provides a misleading estimate of a school staff's effectiveness. They should.
A standardized test is any examination that's administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner. There are two major kinds of standardized tests: aptitude tests and achievement tests.
Standardized aptitude tests predict how well students are likely to perform in some subsequent educational setting. The most common examples are the SAT-I and the ACT both of which attempt to forecast how well high school students will perform in college.
But standardized achievement-test scores are what citizens and school board members rely on when they evaluate a school's effectiveness. Nationally, five such tests are in use: California Achievement Tests, Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Metropolitan Achievement Tests, and Stanford Achievement Tests.
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