Policy makers in institutions of higher learning have been faced with a lot of challenges in trying to come up with policies which will see drastic and sound policies being put in place and eventually bring a new meaning and also change the course in which the policy makers have been using in evaluation of the performances of students. Currently, the use of standardized testing has been used in evaluating the performance of the students. To ensure that the readers of this research papers gets an understanding of the topic of study, it is worth introducing the topic to the reader.
Standardized testing refers to the tests that are subjected to students and expected to be scored in a consistent manner. It is critical to understand that in standardized testing, all the students or rather those to be tested are subjected to a similar test with the same conditions. In as far as education system is concerned, standardized testing is seen as a fair method of testing the performance of the students and hence they are the most used tests (Popham, 1999). The reason why standardized testing is popular among the education institutions is that there are many forms in which it can be administered. These may include multiple choice questions, essay questions, true or false questions or any other form of questions.
The fact that they are flexible makes many examiners as well as the students to prefer them than all the other forms of testing. This research paper therefore primarily focuses on the effects of using standardized testing as a method of evaluating the performance of students in education institutions. Of essence in as far as this study is concerned is the issues related to evaluation of students in the institutions of higher learning. The research will now embark on the discussion of the paper which is the body of this research paper.
Significance of the research
This research will be of great importance to the policy makers of the institutions of higher learning due to the fact that the policies which will be made after the recommendation of this research paper has been reached will bring changes to the assessment of students in the institutions of higher learning. Also, it will be essential to examiners as well as students. As far as the students are concerned, if standardized tests will be regarded as biased, it will offer a recommendation for examiners to be using other specific forms of testing that will cater for each and every student. This is because all the students do not have the same capability; some are fast learners while others are slow learner. The writer will also have the privilege to accomplish the requirements of the course that he /she is currently undergoing. This will give the writer an experience of what might be expected in the work place as far as research is concerned.
Research objectives and research questions
The main objective in as far as this research paper is concerned is to establish the effects of standardized testing in the institutions of higher learning. Also, of essence is to establish the issues that arise when assessing students in those institutions. This will lead the writer in establishing if there is another form of assessment that can compliment standardized testing.
The study will be led by the following two research questions;
- Are there other ways of monitoring assessments in the institutions of higher learning?
- If they do exist, are they valid and reliable?
Where as standardized testing do have some advantages such as being too cheap, allowing examiners in looking or examining a large number of students as well as providing a means which are very quick to grade the examinees, they are faced with challenges or rather issues which will be dealt with in this section. Research has shown that they have not been good in measuring the intelligence of a student. This is simply because they are very simplistic in nature and therefore do not challenge the students enough. For instance, a standardized test cannot determine if the student has absorbed what has already been taught in class (Nezavdal, 2003). Again the study of different articles shows that standardized tests are composed of cultural biases and therefore make them much more difficult for the students who come from outside the test designer. However, given that the tests are tested or analyzed for elimination of related biasness, total elimination of this kind of biasness cannot be achieved effectively.
On top of this issue, it has been argued that standardized test are not in a position of allowing students or examinees to show their skills related to deductive logic, reasoning skills creativity as well as critical thinking. As a result some of the tests which are subjected to the examinees are composed of short integrated essay which the graders do not give much attention to and also do have diversified views on how it should be used to grade the students in question. Another issue is that there is overuse as well as misuse of the standard testing result in harming learning and teaching which lead to narrowing of the syllabus that the student is supposed to take (Stull, 2006). A view of the group called FairTest is that if standardized test are considered as the main factor as far as accountability is concerned, the institution result in using the test while establishing their curriculum as well as focus instruction.
This unearths the fact that teaching the students so that they can pass the examination does not in any way favor higher order learning. This follows the premise that if a test is established, what is to be tested is seen or used as the curriculum. Again, this makes it easy to skip teaching of what is not to be tested though it may be relevant. Considering the fact that the scores of the students are subjective to the following three things namely; innate intelligence of the student, what the student learns in the school as well as what is learned outside the school. Standardized testing therefore emerges as inappropriate in examining students as it is linked to only one of the three factors above.
To counter such issues, value added modeling which is another assessment model, has been recommended by the researchers since it can be used to cater for what the student has learned out of school as well as innate intelligence of the student. In as far as this system of testing is concerned, examiners are involved in determining anticipated scores for each and every student .To determine such score of each students , some factors are taken into consideration which may include the native language of the student, the scores that the same student scored in the previous test and status as far as social economic back ground of the student is concerned, just to mention but a few (Pearson, 1993). This model's approach shows clearly that it can counter the issues criticized in the standardized testing model by eliminating biasness as well as that fact that it does consider what the student has learned outside the school syllabus as well as the innate intelligence of the student. The value added model takes the difference between the actual score and expected score of the student which is taken to be possible mainly because of the efforts of the student's tutor.
In as far as objectivity is concerned, in standardized testing, the part which objective can only be considered is getting the scoring of the students. The manner in which the results are used is determined by the human being decisions (Carter, 1999). To be reliable on the other hand, a test must give similar results when used more than once. The performance of an individual or rather a student in this case, can be different if done more than once. This may be due to the fact that either testing conditions or even the emotional and mental state of the examinee.
IQ tests are a form or rather a type of standard testing since they are tested the same way to the subjected examinees. They are used to measure intelligence of the examinees as well as put it on a scale instead of measuring the abilities of the students. These forms of standardized testing also do assume that that intelligence is permanent as well as fixed. Psychologist on the other hand totally disagrees with this. According to the research, IQ performance can be altered by nutrition, training as well as test being administered by friendly tutors or teachers (McClelland, 1976). It therefore emerges that IQ test do not necessarily measure intelligence but rather exposure to the experiences based on cultures as well as the knowledge of the standard English.
Multiple choice questions on the other hand have been identified as not being useful to the student's achievements. Being a form or a kind of standardized testing, they do fail in determining what students can be capable of in real world scenarios. Also, they fail in establishing the capability of student to be able to write as well as how they can be in a position to understand social science concepts.
Another issue which does arise with standardized testing is that multiple choice questions initially were not meant to assist tutors. The study shows that instructors do not find performances from standardized questions being of any significance in as far as assessment is concerned and therefore they use them in rare situations. The reason is that these tests do not provide the instructors with a means of assisting the student to improve their performances taking into consideration that they don't determine how a student thinks or rather learns as well as understands the concepts taught in class.
With the discussion of this research paper in mind, it is evident that in an attempt to provide policy makers with sound assessment criteria of students in institutions of higher learning, other methods or systems of assessment should be taken into consideration. This is because standardized testing has been proved to be inefficient and well as not being both valid and reliable. Better means of evaluating ability or achievement of the examinees such as students' work documentation, teacher observation as well as assessments based on the performance of student do exist (Powell, 2010). The good thing about them is that they involve direct examination or assessment of examinees' capability on learning as well as providing important as well as useful materials for the teachers, community and parents to use. This research paper recommends value-added modeling to be used for student assessment as it compliments the weaknesses of standardized testing.