Undoubtedly, tests provide teachers with a powerful tool to use in the process of studies, including for the final exams at any level of education. Tests often show their effectiveness when they touch upon the basic questions of any science. They indeed allow teachers to test the knowledge of students without resorting to complex methods. There are advantages for teachers who find it easier to check tests than, for example, essays. These and some other reasons make standardized tests a popular method of testing knowledge around the world.
However, there are harmful processes in education that can take place if standardized tests become the primary or the only tool for testing the level of readiness of schoolchildren. This will be harmful, especially for decisions that are essential for children or teachers made on the basis of this assessment: the issuance of a diploma, admission to an educational institution, and other important events. The main goal of the whole educational system is its development and growth. Besides, somewhere, it should be recreated according to proven traditional approaches (Koretz 84). In this regard, Standardized Testing is an inaccurate and harmful measure of a student’s capabilities and should no longer be implemented in today’s education system.
People involved in education can safely state that one of the advantages of tests is the objectivity of obtained results. Moreover, these results do not depend on the people who conduct the testing. However, this type of knowledge assessment cannot be always precise and clearly reflect the knowledge. This is an ideal, non-existent testing. The reality is that there are multiple types of students who have absolutely different mental characteristics. Thus, not all of them can cope with the test methodology and consequently receive underestimated grades. Accordingly, there are also people whose test scores are overestimated (Soares 142). It is possible that one of the reasons for this is the long-term use of tests for numerous educational goals.
The school has a variety of tools to understand how well students have learned the material. Only by acting with the use of all these tools in a complex, can teachers properly manage the educational process. Here, a tool for final exams of tests is especially important, and there are also various kinds of student assessment, which include more than only tests. Unfortunately, the school often replaces the educational goal: it is the final control that eventually matters for students and teachers (Wexler 18). When moving to standardized testing too fast, the main goal for teachers is preparing students for the test. Corresponding methods are also swiftly created, allowing students to prepare for passing the test without studying the subject.
There are subjects, the content of which is not covered enough by the system of standardized tests. Within a particular subject, some aspects and children’s skills can be easily verified by these tests, while for others it is more difficult (Morgan 70). With the use of tests, it is not easy to test the crucial opportunity of any person to reason and think logically. For example, almost all geometry is beyond the opportunities of test technologies. The broad use of tests can even displace some critical sections of the fundamental sciences from school curricula.
The crucial issue related to the widespread use of test technologies is the exclusion of highly qualified professionals from the process of studies. In the beginning, school managers just do not need them at the verification stage. Then, tests allow the managers to even conduct an assessment without the participation of specialists. Then the situation changes even more, and the managers themselves, having seen some simple and standardized tests, stars interfering in the process of tests creation themselves. Unfortunately, this can lead to inaccuracies and serious errors.
Prepared tests can indeed greatly facilitate teachers’ work. In general, this is good, because the teacher is freed from some of the routine work. However, this raises other problems and, in particular, the issue of improving teachers’ professional qualifications (Cunningham 118). Verification of test items and control works is carried out automatically and does not give any professional workload. Thus, if teachers do not take additional measures for their professional development, simply to “keep fit,” they will probably start degrading quite fast.
Testing is the most marketable educational technology in existence and perhaps the only truly commercial technology. Even the creation of good and proven tests can be put on stream, although this process involves good specialists; in particular, this is quite an expensive task, and therefore, it becomes profitable for the provider. However, the point is that market relations quickly push competent teachers or scientists out of the process of working on such tests. Sometimes these people are even not allowed to this work activity (Schneider 43). Thus, the consumers, such as school students and teachers, get the simplest product: tests with a choice of answer. Hence, the market is full of low-quality products, but the educational institutions have to adapt to them.
The introduction of standardized tests as the primary way to conduct the final assessment of the knowledge of schoolchildren, for admission to colleges and universities, and the creation of new special institutions for the creation of tests, which get official support, will dramatically lower the quality of education and create good conditions for the growth of new and harmful types of corruption. Another disadvantage of the tests is their seeming simplicity of creation and their ability to “multiply” quickly. When it is so simple to create thousands of low-quality tests, the manufacturers create a huge gap in education, with an inevitable and quick negative outcome for schooling.
Nevertheless, there are indeed some advantages of tests. They are not so dangerous themselves but the market mechanisms that create them make tests rather a harmful phenomenon. Under their influence, any system of testing and selection can become harmful or useless for education. Testing is reduced to the most primitive form with the choice of an answer to questions from a set of options, and the traditional exam is made up of cumbersome and tasteless tasks. Passing it without expensive special training is impossible. Thus, despite some advantages, tests are indeed one of the factors in the deterioration of education. It is necessary to widely apply other forms of knowledge testing to raise the level of education of teachers and students.
Cunningham, Jahneille. “Missing the Mark: Standardized Testing as Epistemological Erasure in U.S. Schooling.” Power and Education, vol. 11, no. 1, 2019, pp. 111–120, Web.
Koretz, Daniel. The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. University of Chicago Press, 2017.
Morgan, Hani. “Relying on High-Stakes Standardized Tests to Evaluate Schools and Teachers: A Bad Idea”. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, vol. 89, no. 2, 2016, pp. 67–72.
Schneider, Jack. Beyond Test Scores: A Better Way to Measure School Quality. Harvard University Press, 2017.
Soares, Joseph. The Scandal of Standardized Tests: Why We Need to Drop the SAT and ACT. Teachers College Press, 2020.
Wexler, Natalie. The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System – and how to Fix it. Penguin Publishing Group, 2019.