What Are the Different Types of State Standardized Tests?

Anna B. Smith

State standardized tests are unique to every state, and are administered annually to determine how well students are learning the curriculum for each particular grade. The US uses state standardized tests to determine and appropriate federal funding for public schools. States may choose to structure and administer their tests in any way they see fit, and often contract the development of such exams out to private educational corporations. This type of testing is generally only administered for the grades spanning between kindergarten and twelfth grade.

A typical answer sheet for a multiple choice standardized test.
A typical answer sheet for a multiple choice standardized test.

The goal of this type of testing is to set academic expectations at the federal level for both student achievement and teacher performance across the nation. The material covered during end of the year testing is determined by the US Department of Education. Schools and teachers are informed of the content which should be addressed by the exam, but are not given individual test questions or answers. They are allowed some creativity when preparing lesson plans that teach the specified information, and are encouraged to provide students with an in depth understanding of course materials.

Standardized testing may begin as early as kindergarten.
Standardized testing may begin as early as kindergarten.

All states hold an end of the year achievement test that is unique to each grade level for public school students. The end of the year test is named according to the state offering it, such as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, the Virginia Standards of Learning, and the New England Common Assessment Program. These exams test each student's abilities in reading, writing, social studies, math, and science. Individual county school boards are given the option to impose additional expectations on their local students. Some choose to develop standardized testing that is administered quarterly to every school located within one particular county in addition to the annual test required by the federal government.

Some states offer course specific state standardized tests once students reach high school. These exams include questions on more specific course knowledge, such as geometry, algebra, chemistry, and biology, rather than the more broad ranges of math and science addressed in grade school tests. The state and individual counties are allowed to determine at a local level the weight of a student's performance on these types of tests.

All state standardized tests must be completed by every student registered in a particular school for that school to be eligible for federal funding during the following budget year. How well or poorly a student performs on those tests, may or may not reflect on his overall grades. In the state of North Carolina, for example, a student's performance on his End of Course Test contributes to 25% of his overall grade, and is used in determining whether he graduates. In Georgia, students are merely required to complete these tests to graduate, and their scores are not averaged into their course evaluations or used for graduation purposes.

Some states require testing on specific branches of math and science.
Some states require testing on specific branches of math and science.

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