Standardized Testing: Validity, Reliability and Specific to Purpose
Pros and Cons of standardized testing: High stakes tests
Assessment of non-standardized students
The one elemental requirement when determining any policy or standard that cannot be swept aside or forgotten, not even in part is that "individual" or "group of individuals" for which the policy or standard is being determined. Because it is spe-cifically the entire scope of characteristics in relation to that "individual or group" for whom the policy is being determined that should be used as guidelines in assessing the same as well as being the one integral elements of consideration in the determination of that policy?
Having considered the foregoing statement to be both logical, rational as well as true then should not great care be applied in the use of "high-stakes" testing as in truth, this type of testing involves "high-risks" that surpass the threshold of even a gambler's enjoyment. Therefore, the use of "high-risk/stake" testing should be carefully reconsidered and possible adoption of other methods secured.
Several states in the U.S. have already adopted their own educational policies which address "high-stakes" testing and have ruled them to be ineffective and capable of producing possible harm in educational use of these tests. Although the intent of those who determine policy hold beliefs that in the upholding of higher standards in education, inspiration will be provided to others, (the students, teachers and education administrators) thereby resulting in the raising of standards.
What about the only average student? The average student will be the stable and steady worker of tomorrow, a worker that will require not only education but training, certification as well as continuing education the chosen profession through formal and informal learning on a continuous basis throughout life.
I. "Test-passing" instead of Testing- learning:
Is the morning delivery paperboy given only one chance in life to throw right to the front walk, square two and please don't hit the tulips? Will the baker never again bake if the breads or cakes should fall flat of first try? Will one test really determined the "high- stakes" moments in the lives of students and then upon having failed will fear to try again win as the student fearfully drops out of school.
What will be added or taken to the student in terms of self-value and worth in terms of expectations towards excellence and achievement? Will these tests truly raise standards or will it lose some along the way from failed first attempts and the others from lack of personal visions?
The stable, solid and industrious student that is incidentally "average" as well must not be left to languish behind due to "one" very singular "high-risk" test. Fairness in education is still a noble virtue worthy of being sought out by educators, students and administrators of education. Therefore, if educational assessment is to be "fair" then there must be allowance for normal or "average" students within the scope of assessment to make room for students on a tier-type of achievement, perhaps one achieving more and another less, but all students achieving and moving upward..
II. Failures in High-Stakes Testing:
Mandated testing is occurring in many states and within many schools through the United States. This tests are for the specific purpose of gathering data and facts in relation to achievements students each year as well as being a test that carries "high-risks" in terms of the student's future, noticeably so when considered so much is riding on the score of only one test. Furthermore, schools as well as the faculty may receive praise or heavy sanction based on high or low testing scores. And these tests may be enacted by policy-makers with the best of intentions and with the most integral thought as motive however, it doesn't add up to an average however, indeed there is no such thing as average with only one test.
III. Reporting Authorities:
The American Education Research Associations' (AERA) mission is stated to be:
"To promote educational policies and practices that creditable scientific research has shown to be beneficial, and to discourage those found to have negative effects. "
The AERA states, in relation to "High-Stakes" Testing: in PreK-12 Education" that:
"Once such current issues is the increasing use of high-stakes tests as instruments of educational policy."
AERA has released their statement on high-stakes testing based on the "1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing." The AERA adopted standards concerning the "high-stakes" testing is inclusive of:
1. The student should not have passing of a school year grade, or graduation from the institution of the school relying on just this one tests alone.
2. There should be some type of provisions for alternate assessment so as not to unfairly bar a student from passing or graduating.
3. There should be provision of more than just one opportunity to pass the testing.
4. Further, the adequate resources and funding should be provided in order that the student has a real opportunity to learn and does not become overly engrossed with the testing and losing the learning.
5. At all times consideration should be given to the validity, reliability and specificity of the testing as to appropriateness to learning achieved.
6. The proper alignment of the test to curriculum should be validated on a regular basis.
7. Gathering, researching and reporting of valid evidence on testing scores and levels should be done on a continuous and thorough basis.
8. Meaningful remediation should be provisioned to those who fail the tests with remediation focusing on the knowledge and skills specific to that test.
9. Language and Disability specific approaches and attention to students that are new in a language or is disabled and requiring specific classroom prop for learning."(paraphrased and restated)
IV. Kohn and High-Stakes Testing:
Alfie Kohn is unmovingly against standardized and high stakes testing and believes fully that they are in fact an extreme detriment in their negative impact upon education. Kohn's views are more in line with the test focus toward the basics of education in the teaching instead of the learning. In the hopes for prevention of disasters through these tests he argues against the concepts of standardized tests, grades, rewards, punishment and merit pay. Kohn firmly believes that educational "standards" should be abolished and argues for educational reform of schools into "caring communities." According to Kohn:
"Our main objective should be lifelong learning, which is to acquire the desire and the means for more education."
This is based on the Dewian concept. Kohn states that "as a rule, it appears that standardized-test results are positively correlated with a shallow approach to learning." (p. 55)
One explanation for this is that the students are not learning for the sake of learning, but rather preparing for the sake of the exam, or a grade, a of course can only study the material that is expected in the exam. Kohn also believes that standardized testing is a removal from fairness and equity. He argues that "if states persisting making a student's fate rest on a single test, the likely result over the next few years will be nothing short of catastrophic (p. 60) States further that it will be an "educational cleansing."
Standardized and "high-stakes" testing are now in the news spotlight as the No Child Left Behind system of educational governance is yielding "not-so-bright" results in terms of educational achievement. One test cannot sensibly or logically serve to test the entirety of learning on the part of a student for the entire year of learning in school. There must be a more logical method of assessing a student's learning and indeed, a more positive method to apply.
There is no such thing as a "standardized student" and therefore standardized testing is missing the mark, that being, the real assessment of the true learning attained by a student. These tests have many problems we are told by Kohn and McNeil among others. Policy- makers must hand the reins back into the hands of the pros indeed, the teachers and school administrators. Governance in education is much like a budget that one writes down and looks great from all appearances, yet due to the every-changing facts surrounding a budget; the same is true of educational processes. There is always the little factor unaccounted for and the teacher is a professional who knows how to make just the right adjustment but the policy-maker attempting to deal with details such as these is pulled from that which the policy maker does most excellent and cast into the role of an amateur performing guesswork. The freedom to teach must be returned to the place it best will flourish which, indeed is to the capable hands and mind of the teacher. Educational governance as such is all well and fine but upon the realization that the present form does not address the needs and priorities of today's classroom then with no adieu, a new path should be taken on the upward trail.
The American Research Association: Position Statement…