Standardized Assessment: Perspectives and Solutions

Despite educators’ growing concerns, standardized testing is not going anywhere — at least not any time soon. Valerie Strauss, a writer for The Washington Post, outlined a few of these reasons in her recent article, citing money as a main reason. The standardized testing movement is a lucrative business, and the people who determine the direction of education reform are the people who are funding education reform.

Our culture’s focus on standardized testing has led to our classroom’s focus on “teaching to the test,” an understanding that teachers’ lessons and curricula should be targeted toward state standards and test preparation. The implementation of the Common Core Standards is another reason for this focus on standardization. Adopted nationwide (with some exceptions), the Common Core’s main goal is to measure all students on a level playing field, and it focuses on developing students’ “college and career readiness” skills.

Students aren’t the only ones being affected by standardized test scores. In the majority of states across the country, teacher effectiveness is being measured based on students’ standardized test scores. Is this fair? Seventy three percent of Teach100 Mentors believe that standardized test scores are not an accurate measurement of student understanding, and 89 percent of those surveyed believe that student test scores are not an accurate measurement of teacher effectiveness.

While standardized tests and nationwide standards are sticking around (at least for now), how else can we accurately — and appropriately — measure teacher and student success? We asked our Teach100 Mentors, who are all teachers and experts in the field, to weigh in on what they feel are more accurate representations of holistic learning.

Standardized Assessment: Issues, Perspectives and Solutions

“Other metrics, besides standardized testing, that I feel are key to measuring student understanding and achievement are any assignments that require students to apply content and create a product.” — Christopher J. Nesi, House of #EdTech Podcast

Participation in class discussions, project-based assessments, observations, performance tasks and portfolios are other metrics, besides standardized testing, that I feel are key to measuring student understanding and achievement.” — Mike Lerchenfeldt, The Light Bulb

District common assessments, formative assessments and student classwork. I’ve found formative assessments work wonders at helping me determine who is ready for a challenge as opposed to who still needs help.” — Lisa Mims, Diary of a Public School Teacher

Standardized Assessment

“Personally, I believe project-based assessments, portfolio creation and student artifacts that offer an opportunity for collaboration and reflection are the most important in measuring student understanding and achievement.” — Mike Karlin, The EdTech Roundup

“Though I think the format and question types of the new SBAC [Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium] test are going in the right direction, true student achievement can only be seen through a body of work in a student’s portfolio.” — Jen Roberts, Literacy, Technology, Policy, Etc...A Blog

Application of learned information is the best way to check student progress. Test anxiety, etc., may hold students back despite knowing and being able to demonstrate knowledge of subject.” — Brent Warner,

“Development of learning and understanding at different rates and times in the educational process. While deadlines are important, the learning happens at different rates for some.” — Frank Korb, Art with Korb

“Students’ attitudes toward learning, work ethic, participation, products they have made to show learning and understanding, and performance tasks.” — Todd Bloch, Sweat to Inspire

Standardized Assessment

“Daily performance, formative assessment and inquiry based learning that shows student understanding. Standardized testing is a measure, but I can’t say [a measure] of understanding content...more like a standard of your ability to read and of your test taking skills.” — Garth Holman, Teachers for Tomorrow

“Formative assessment — that is, assessment that is used for formative purposes and not for the purpose of ‘getting a grade.’” Allowing students opportunities to explain their thinking and understanding. Allowing students opportunities to teach or to help other students.” — Peter Cincotta, What’s So Good About Public Education in America?

Standardized Assessment

Where do you stand on the topic of standardized testing, and how else are you measuring your students in the classroom? Comments with your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.

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