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What Is the Purpose of Standardized Tests in Schools?

Standardized test results may provide information on how much students are learning.
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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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The main purpose of standardized tests in schools is to give educators an objective, unbiased perspective of how effective their instruction is. Standardized testing helps identify the natural aptitudes of individual students. Identifying skill development and progress is made possible by the use of standardized tests. In addition, students' results on examinations can help to evaluate a school's overall performance.

Without the use of standardized tests in schools, educators wouldn't have an objective way to evaluate the effectiveness of their instruction. Test results are often used to indicate subject areas that may need to be taught differently or in greater depth. The results reflect how well the students are absorbing and grasping the basic concepts of classroom instruction. Poor test results may indicate problems with the way in which the material is being organized and presented.

Low scores on standardized tests may also indicate that crucial information is not being included in a school's classroom instruction. If students aren't being exposed to the concepts that test developers feel they should be acquainted with at their grade level, schools may need to consider restructuring their curriculum. Lower scores might also indicate an issue with the teaching method used. For example, a school that implements a self-directed learning teaching method may find that some students perform poorly in subjects that they find difficult to grasp.

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The use of standardized tests in schools also serves the purpose of identifying individual strengths and weaknesses among students. While a test does not provide a complete picture of a student's dominant skills, it can provide some indication of subjects he may be more naturally talented in. It can also help identify which students need additional instruction in certain subjects or students who might be ready for more advanced courses, if available. For instance, some middle schools may offer advanced algebra courses for students who excel in math.

Testing helps identify whether individual students are grasping basic concepts that are typical of their grade level. In order to be successful in the next grade level, students should be comfortable with certain concepts and foundational topics that will be expanded upon. Test scores can indicate where there are deficiencies.

In the United States, the use of standardized tests in schools also fulfills the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. This law was passed in 2001 to improve quality levels in America's public school system. Schools are graded based on the scores that their students receive on examinations and face certain penalties for not achieving improvement. Some of these penalties include losing funding for educational programs and being forced to transfer students to schools that meet performance measures.

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Discuss this Article

golf07
Post 2

I do understand that there should be some kind of standard or way to measure how students comprehend what they are learning. Colleges often use them to determine how successful a student may be in certain college courses. If you get low math scores on your standardized exams, you will probably have to take some prep classes before you can enroll in certain college courses.

These scores are to give them an indication of what your skill level and aptitude for certain areas are. Generally speaking if you have high math and science scores, you will do well in college math and engineering courses. If you have high scores in reading, you should not have trouble with English and education courses.

myharley
Post 1

I have mixed feelings about standardized testing. All through high school and college I have been a straight A student, a good test taker and graduated with honors from college. You would never have guessed that with the scores from my standardized achievement tests through the years.

I always got low scores compared to the grades I got in all my classes. School always came easy for me, but I did work hard to get the grades I got. I always felt that the standardized tests did not really portray an accurate picture of the students potential.

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