In the past, tests mostly measured basic skills, such as math, English and reading. They were simply a method for teachers had to discover who grasped the concepts and who did not. Good teachers would then go back and reteach to those who did not get the concepts, with the goal being that all students would learn.
In a way, it is not too different from today except that the focus has shifted from the results to the process.
Schools now put so much emphasis on the tests that parents, teachers, students and even community members wonder what purpose they serve. It is good sometimes, despite the negative connotations such tests have, to step back to discover their function as well as the benefits of achieving well on the standardized tests for students.
Importance of Testing
Here are some things to consider regarding some ways such assessments help students along with some pointers on how to raise your expectations by promoting a positive sense of awareness regarding the tests.
- It is the standard means used by public schools for monitoring progress and pinpointing weak areas. Many people –from stressed out teachers to students and parents—complain about testing. However, if we remember schools use testing to determine areas that require attention, we can begin to see the value of the process. Encouraging students to perform at their best and reminding them of the importance will help them understand why tests are necessary.
- It is a piece of their school records that will follow students into college and beyond. Standardized tests are a measure of progress as well as a diagnostic gauge that compares a student to the rest of the population who took the test. This is known as “norm-referenced.” Having students consider how these tests will become part of their permanent school record will help them understand the importance of achieving well on them.
- It is generally believed that students who do well on tests do well in life. While there are exceptions to this rule, the majority of people involved in the decision-making process regarding college entrance, jobs and hiring decisions believe that tests are sufficient in many cases to illustrate the ability level of the test-takers. Even in cases when this is not true, the business world believes this in general, as does the academic environment. Potential college recruiters and employers may narrow down the best candidates based on the assessments.
- The tests give students a challenge and raise the bar on expectations so that they strive to achieve at higher levels. Everyone needs challenges to achieve higher than they have in the past. Even though it may be frustrating when the state and federal education systems keep raising the bar, this is the way it is in life, as well. For instance, employers often require employees to learn new concepts so they will be able to reach higher levels and help expand the business.
- Standardized tests give students an idea of where they rank with their peers and what they need to do to improve on specific skills to be more competitive. Not everyone is created equal. This is a reality of life. However, taking standardized tests that compare students to their peers shows them what they are good at and where they need work on a norm-referenced scale.
In essence, while standardized tests pose unique challenges and can sometimes be frustrating for everyone involved, it is important to remember the reasons they are required and how they will ultimately help students achieve at higher levels over time.
It is essential that parents and educators emphasize the importance of doing the best they can on such assessments, evaluating the results and focusing on the areas that need the most attention. This approach will not only help them achieve higher on such assessments, but will help them in their careers later on, and ultimately, in life.
- Global Post: The Effects of Standardized Tests on Teachers and Students
- The Benefits of Regular Standardized Assessment in Childhood Education
- Standardized Testing
This post is part of the series: Helping Your Child Succeed with Standardized Tests
Although highly debated and somewhat controversial, standardized achievement testing is a fact of life. Learn some tips and approaches that can enable you to help your child do his or her best on assessments of every kind.