Standardized tests have actually been a part of American education due to the fact that the mid-1800s. Their use skyrocketed after ~ 2002’s No son Left Behind action (NCLB) mandated yearly testing in every 50 states. Us students slipped from gift ranked 18th in the human being in math in 2000 come 40th in 2015, and also from 14th come 25th in science and also from 15th to 24th in reading. Failure in the education system have actually been blamed on rising poverty levels, teacher quality, tenure policies, and, increasingly, ~ above the pervasive usage of standardization tests.

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Proponents argue that standardized tests sell an objective measurement the education and also a an excellent metric come gauge areas for improvement, as well as offer coherent data to assist students in marginalized groups, and also that the scores are great indicators the college and also job success. They controversy standardized tests are beneficial metrics for teacher evaluations.

Opponents argue that standardized exam only determine which student are great at taking tests, market no coherent measure of progress, and also have not boosted student performance, and also that the tests are racist, classist, and sexist, through scores that room not predictors the future success. They controversy standardized test are helpful metrics because that teacher evaluations.

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Pro & Con Arguments

Pro 1

Standardized tests market an target measurement that education and a good metric come gauge areas for improvement.

Teachers’ grading methods are normally uneven and also subjective. An A in one class may be a C in another. Teachers also have conscious and also unconscious biases because that a favorite college student or versus a rowdy student, for example. <56> standardization tests sell students across the nation a linked measure of your knowledge.

Aaron Churchill, Ohio research Director because that the thomas B. Fordham Institute, stated, “At your core, standardized exams are designed to be target measures. They assess students based upon a similar collection of questions, are given under almost identical trial and error conditions, and are graded by a device or blind reviewer. They are intended to provide an accurate, unfiltered measure up of what a college student knows.” <56>

Frequently states or neighborhood jurisdictions rental psychometricians to ensure tests space fair throughout populations that students. Mark Moulon, PhD, Chief executive, management Officer in ~ Pythias Consulting and also psychometrician, available an example: “If you discover that your question on slip is one that boys uncover to be an easy question, yet girls find to it is in a difficult question, that’ll pop up as a statistic. Differential article functioning will flag that question as problematic.” <57>

Moulon continued, explaining, “What’s cool about psychometrics is that it will certainly flag stuff the a human being would never have the ability to notice. Ns remember a scientific research test that had been occurred in California and it asked about earthquakes. Yet the question was later used in a test the was administered in new England. Once you try to analysis the brand-new England youngsters with the California kids, friend would get a differential article functioning flag due to the fact that the California kids were anywhere the topic of earthquakes, and the children in Vermont had actually no idea around earthquakes.” <57>

With problematic questions removed, or adjusted for different populations of students, standardization tests offer the finest objective measure of what students have learned. Taking that information, schools deserve to determine areas for improvement. Together Bryan Nixon, previous Head of school at private school Whitby, noted, “When we receive standardized test data in ~ Whitby, we usage it to advice the efficiency of our education program. We check out standardized experimentation data as not only another set of data points to assess college student performance, but additionally as a method to aid us reflect on our curriculum. When we look in ~ Whitby’s evaluate data, we deserve to compare our students to their peers at various other schools to determine what we’re doing well within our educational continuum and where we need to invest much more time and also resources.” <58>

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Pro 2

Standardized test offer systematic data to aid students in marginalized groups.

Keri Rodrigues, Co-founder the the national Parents Union, explained, “If i don’t have testing data to make certain my child’s on the appropriate track, I’m not able to intervene and say there is a problem and also my child requirements more. And the community can’t say this school is doing well, this teacher needs aid to improve, or this device needs brand-new leadership… the really vital to have actually a statewide test due to the fact that of the earnings disparity that exists in our society. Black and Brown excellence is real, but just because a kid resides in Dorchester does no make his or her life is less an important than a boy that resides in Wellesley . And it is unfair to say that just by happy of birth the a son born in Wellesley is in which method entitled to a higher-quality education… experimentation is a tool for united state to host the device accountable to make certain our kids have what they need. ” <59>

Sheryl Lazarus, PhD, director of the National center on education Outcomes in ~ the university of Minnesota, stated, “a genuine plus of these assessments is that they’ve really shone a irradiate on the differences throughout sub-groups. And also they have actually led to enhancements in accessibility to instruction because that students v disabilities and also English learners… consist of of students with disabilities and English learner in summative tests offered for accountability permits us come measure exactly how well the mechanism is doing for these students, and also then that is feasible to fill in gaps in instructional opportunity.” <60>

Advocates for marginalized groups of students, whether by race, finding out disability, or other difference, deserve to use experimentation data to prove a problem exists and also to help solve the trouble via an ext funding, advancement of programs, or other solutions. Polite rights education and learning lawsuits within a group is suing a neighborhood or state federal government for better education virtually always use trial and error data. <61>

Chris Stewart, CEO that brightbeam, summarizes, “We only understand that there’s a difference between White students and also Black students and other student of color due to the fact that we have actually the data. We only know around that because we have assessments.” <61>

A letter signed through 12 civil rights organizations including the NAACP and the American association of university Women, explained, “Data obtained through some standardized tests are particularly important come the civil civil liberties community because they room the only available, consistent, and also objective source of data around disparities in educational outcomes, also while vigilance is always required to ensure tests space not misused. These data are offered to advocate for greater resource equity in colleges and more fair treatment for student of color, low-income students, students v disabilities, and also English learners… e cannot solve what us cannot measure. And abolishing the test or sabotaging the validity of your results just makes that harder come identify and fix the deep-seated difficulties in our schools.” <62>

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Pro 3

Standardized test are valuable metrics for teacher evaluations.

While grades and other actions are valuable for teacher evaluations, standardized tests administer a continuous measure throughout classrooms and also schools. Individual institution administrators, college districts, and also the state can compare teachers using test scores to present how each teacher has actually helped students master core concepts. <63>

Timothy Hilton, a high institution social research studies teacher in South main Los Angeles, stated, “No self-respecting teacher would usage a single student grade on a single assignment together a last grade for the totality of a course, so why would we count on one source of information in the determination of a teacher’s overall quality? The an ext data that deserve to be provided, the more accurate the teacher review decisions will finish up being. Teacher evaluations should incorporate as many pieces of data together possible. Management observation, college student surveys, college student test scores, experienced portfolios, and on and also on. The more data that is used, the much more accurate the snapshot it will certainly paint.” <64>

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Pro 4

Standardized exam scores are an excellent indicators that college and also job success.

Standardized tests deserve to offer proof of and also promote academic rigor, i beg your pardon is invaluable in college and in students’ careers. Matthew Pietrafetta, PhD, Founder of academic Approach, argues that the “tests produce gravitational pull toward higher achievement.” <65>

Elaine Riordan, an elderly communications expert at proactively Learn, stated, “onsiderable research says that interventions that aid students enhance test scores are connected to much better adult outcomes such together college attendance, greater incomes, and the avoidance of risky behaviors… In other words, developing learning settings that command to greater test scores is likewise likely to boost students’ permanent success in college and beyond… recent research argues that the competencies the the SAT, ACT, and other standardization tests space now analyzing are essential not just for students who will to visit four-year colleges but also for those who get involved in CTE program or pick to seek employment requiring combine degrees and also certificates. The researcher argue that every one of these students call for the same level of scholastic mastery come be successful after high institution graduation.” <66>

Standardized check scores have long been correlated with much better college and also life outcomes. As Dan Goldhaber, PhD, manager of the center for evaluation of Longitudinal Data in education Research, and also Umut Özek, PhD, an elderly researcher at the American Institutes for Research, summarize, “students that score one typical deviation higher on mathematics tests in ~ the end of high school have been displayed to earn 12% an ext annually, or $3,600 for annually of occupational life in 2001… Similarly… test scores are significantly correlated not only with education attainment and also labor market outcomes (employment, work experience, choice of occupation), but also with risky actions (teenage pregnancy, smoking, joining in illegal activities).” <67>

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Con 1

Standardized tests only determine which college student are great at acquisition tests, offer no systematic measure the progress, and also have not improved student performance.

Standardized test scores are conveniently influenced by outside factors: stress, hunger, tiredness, and also prior teacher or parental comments around the difficulty of the test, amongst other factors. In short, the tests only display which student are ideal at preparing for and taking the tests, no what knowledge students could exhibit if your stomachs weren’t empty. <68> <69> external stereotypes likewise play a component in scores: “research indicates that being targeted by renowned stereotypes (‘blacks are unintelligent,’ ‘Latinos perform poorly ~ above tests,’ ‘girls can’t do math’ and also so on) have the right to be threatening to student in extensive ways, a predicament they contact ‘stereotype threat.\"” <70>

Students are tested top top grade-appropriate material, but they space not re-tested to determine if they have learned details they tested poorly on the year before. <69> Instead, as Steve Martinez, EdD, Superintendent of twin Rivers linked in California, and also Rick Miller, executive Director of core Districts, note, every “state at this time reports yearly change, by comparing the scores of this year’s students against the scores of critical year’s students that were in the same grade. Also though educators, parents and also policymakers can think adjust signals impact, it says much an ext about the readjust in who the college student are due to the fact that it is not measuring the expansion of the same student native one year to the next.” <71>

Further, due to the fact that each state establishes its own tests, standardization tests are not have to comparable throughout state lines, leave nationwide statistics shaky in ~ best. <72>

Brandon Busteed, executive Director, education & Workforce advance at the moment of the quote, stated, “Despite one increased emphasis on standardized testing, U.S. Outcomes in global comparisons show we have made no far-reaching improvement over the previous 20 years, follow to the regime for worldwide Student evaluate (PISA). The U.S. Most recently ranked 23rd, 39th and 25th in reading, math and also science, respectively. The last time Americans celebrated being 23rd, 39th and also 25th in anything to be … well, never. Our focus on standardized trial and error hasn’t helped us enhance our results!” <73>

Busteed asks, “What if our overreliance top top standardized trial and error has actually inhibited our ability to aid students succeed and accomplish in a multitude of other dimensions? for example, how effective are schools at identifying and educating students v high businessman talent? Or in ~ training students to apply an innovative thinking to fix messy and complicated issues through no straightforward answers?” <73>

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Con 2

Standardized tests are racist, classist, and sexist.

The beginning of American standardized tests space those developed by psychologist Carl Brigham, PhD, because that the military during people War I, which was later adapted to come to be the SAT. The military tests were produced specifically come segregate soldiers by race, because at the time scientific research inaccurately attached intelligence and also race. <74>

Racial bias has not been stripped from standardization tests. W. James Popham, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the college of California at Los Angeles and former test maker, defines how distinguish is purposefully constructed in to standardization tests, “Traditionally built standardized achievements, the kinds that we’ve offered in this nation for a long while, are intended chiefly to discriminate amongst students … come say the someone remained in the 83rd percentile and someone is at 43rd percentile. And also the reason you do that is therefore you have the right to make judgments amongst these kids. But in stimulate to execute so, you have to make certain that the test has in fact a spread out of scores. Among the methods to have that test create a spread out of scores is to limit items in the check to socioeconomic variables, due to the fact that socioeconomic standing is a nicely spread out distribution, and that circulation does in fact spread kids’ scores out on a test.” <75>

As Young Whan Choi, Manager of performance Assessments Oakland Unified college District in Oakland, California, explains, “Too often, test designers rely on questions which i think background knowledge more often organized by White, middle-class students. It’s not just that the designers have unconscious racial bias; the standardized testing industry counts on these type of biased inquiries in bespeak to create a wide variety of scores.” Choi offers an instance from his very own 10th grade class, “a student dubbed me over v a question. V a perplexed look, she pointed come the prompt asking students come write about the characteristics of someone who would worthy a “key come the city.” plenty of of my students, nearly all of whom default for free and reduced lunch, were not acquainted with the idea the a ‘key come the city.’” <76>

Wealthy kids, who would be much more familiar v a “key to the city,” often tend to have higher standardized check scores due to differences in brain development led to by components such together “access come enriching educational resources, and… exposure to spoken language and vocabulary early in life.” <77> Plus, together Eloy Ortiz Oakley, MBA, Chancellor of California neighborhood Colleges, clues out, “Many well-resourced college student have far greater accessibility to test preparation, tutoring and also taking the test multiple times, opportunities not afforded the much less affluent… hese admissions tests room a much better measure the students’ family background and also economic standing than that their capacity to succeed” <78>

Journalist and also teacher Carly Berwick explains, “All students carry out not perform equally well on multiple selection tests, however. Girls have tendency to do less well 보다 boys and perform far better on concerns with open-ended answers, according to a 2018 study by Stanford University’s Sean Reardon, which found that test style alone accounts because that 25 percent of the gender difference in power in both reading and also math. Researcher hypothesize the one explanation for the gender difference on high-stakes exam is threat aversion, meaning girls often tend to assumption: v less.” <68>

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Con 3

Standardized tests are unfair metrics for teacher evaluations.

16 states and also DC have stopped using standardized tests in teacher evaluations. <79> <80> together W. James Popham, PhD, noted, “standardized accomplishment tests must not be offered to identify the performance of a state, a district, a school, or a teacher. There’s almost details to be a far-reaching mismatch between what’s taught and also what’s tested.” <81>

Margaret Pastor, PhD, principal of Stedwick Elementary college in Maryland, stated: “n assistant superintendent… stated that in one of my four kindergarten classes, the student scores were noticeably lower, while in another, the students to be outperforming the various other three classes. That recommended the I have actually the teacher whose course had score much lower work straight with the teacher who seemed to know how to get higher scores from her students. Seems reasonable, right? however here to be the problem: The “underperforming” kindergarten teacher and the “high-performing” teacher to be one and the exact same person.” <82>

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Con 4

Standardized test scores are not predictors the future success.

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Standardized tests deserve to only, in ~ best, evaluate rote expertise of math, science, and also English. The tests execute not evaluate creativity, difficulty solving, vital thinking, creative ability, or other knowledge locations that cannot be judged by scoring a paper of balloon filled in v a pencil.

Grade point averages (GPA) room a 5 times stronger indicator of university success 보다 standardized tests, according to a examine of 55,084 Chicago public college students. Among the authors, Elaine M. Allensworth, PhD, Lewis-Sebring manager of the university of Chicago Consortium, stated, “GPAs measure a an extremely wide range of skills and actions that are necessary for success in college, whereby students will certainly encounter widely varying content and expectations. In contrast, standardization tests measure only a small set of the skills that students need to succeed in college, and also students have the right to prepare for these test in narrow ways that may not interpret into far better preparation to succeed in college.” <83>

Matthew M. Chingos, PhD, Vice president of education and learning Data and Policy in ~ the city Institute, explained, “earning an excellent grades needs consistent behaviors over time—showing approximately class and also participating, turning in assignments, acquisition quizzes, etc.—whereas students can in theory perform well on a test even if they perform not have the an inspiration and perseverance necessary to achieve good grades. The seems most likely that the type of actions high college grades catch are much more relevant for success in college 보다 a score indigenous a single test.” <84>

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Did you Know?
1. The earliest known standardized tests were administered to government job applicants in 7th Century imperial China. <15>
2. The Kansas Silent analysis Test (1914-1915) is the earliest well-known published multiple-choice test, occurred by Frederick J. Kelly, a Kansas school director. <20>
3. In 1934, International company Machines copy, group (IBM) rental a teacher and also inventor named Reynold B. Johnson (best well-known for producing the world’s first commercial computer disk drive) to create a production design of his prototype test scoring machine. <23> <24>
4. The present use that No. 2 pencils on standardized tests is a holdover from the 1930s with the 1960s, when scanning makers scored prize sheets by detecting the electrical conductivity that graphite pencil marks. <23> <24>
5. In 2020, states were enabled to cancel standardization testing as result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. <54>