Examination and Standardized Testing: How To Improve Evaluations of Students ?

School needs to seriously consider how it assesses its students, confronting the thorny issue of testing. Many students are significantly victimized by society’s evaluation obsession. Life has become excruciatingly hard for some kids to cope with when he is not doing very well on some of these evaluations.  Testing is necessary in public education to gauge how much students have learnt. However, any standardized test format prepared by any test maker inevitably discriminates unfairly against kids with various personality and thinking styles. An essay test, a standardized multiple-choice examination, or an oral quiz might be fair to one student but discriminates against the child with different mindset seated next to her. 

Kids should be given multiple options for evaluations, particularly when they head into the upper grades. Some educators have advocated assessing students on tangible evidence of their accomplishments at all grade levels. Kids should be evaluated based on what they are good at. Such a process would salvage and provide incentives to kids who don’t do well in test but know so much more than they can display on traditional examinations.

 

If test have become a must in evaluating students’ performance, it should be done with minimal harm to the students. Schools should follow some cautious guidelines to evaluate the children and adolescents that minimize the negative effects of test, at the same time enhancing their usefulness as part of a student’s education.  Here are some of the considerations that should be taken into account:

1)      When used properly, testing can be a useful tool to raise educational standards. However, in the process of doing so, it should not create a large number of students that are seen as unsuccessful by our society.

2)      Not all the students are able to demonstrate their strengths in the same manner; different kids may need to be tested or should be allowed to demonstrate their strengths differently using alternative approaches.

3)       Ideally, students should be given a choice with respect to how they would prefer to be evaluated.

4)      It is cruel and demoralizing to test a kid in something he is poor at. This should not be what the testing represent.

5)      Students’ privacy should be respected. Their test results should not be announced, posted or publicized in any manner, especially if they are disappointing.

6)      Some students who excel on test may develop a false sense of security and confidence of promising future career and good life, failing to realise that adult careers require many abilities that are not on any test.

7)      Emphasis should be placed on the students’ strengths rather than weaknesses. Students should be required to show continuous improvement on their strengths and should be graded rigorously in their chosen specialties.

8)      For some students, testing may be a poor indicator of their ability. Such students may be better served through an exhibition of their track records, portfolio, or project work as alternatives to formal testing.

9)      Certain test formats discriminate against certain students with different set of minds. So essay, multiple-choice questions, or fill-in-the blanks tests are unfair for some kids.

10)   Some testing may place too much emphasis on memorization work rather than true understanding.  Testing should place less on recall and more on analysis, critical thinking and problem solving.

11)   Teachers are often pressurized to teach and prepare the students to perform in tests.  Teacher and the school performances are judged by students’ scores on examination. This obsession on evaluation should be avoided.

12)   Excessive evaluation should be avoided especially when the kids are going through their highly sensitive and vulnerable adolescent years.

13)   There should be contingency plans for kids who perform poorly on a test. Testing should not represent an end to itself.  Instead, when used properly, it should be a call to subsequent action.

14)   Testing can be a useful to measure the teaching effectiveness. However, there should be more than one testing approach to gauge the extent to which all children are learning.

 

Education aims to produce students who leave school well educated with admiration.  At the same time, we are also worried that many become casualties in the process.  We should seriously consider how learners could gain exposure to some subject areas without the pain of being evaluated. Only then, students can be liberally educated without getting wounded.

One humane alternative would be to allow these students to specialize. More choices should be offered in the elementary levels so that when they enter the high school, they could find out the areas which they are good at. By high school, students may continue to engage in a broad spectrum of courses but they should be graded only in their areas of chosen specialties. Several or all of their non-specialty classes would be graded as pass-or-fail subjects. These students will be aware that they are going to be evaluated stringently in their chosen areas. This would permit kids to pursue their strengths and explore their passions.

Schools should re-examine their most judgemental practices seriously and find ways to contain any testing mania in their region, a change of direction that would add more joy to learning, infuse greater trust and respects for students, and substantially reduce adolescent turmoil.  School should embrace the conviction that every learner has distinct educational needs and each of them requires sensitive educational management.

 


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The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are owned by Ingenira who hereby asserts her copyright on the material. Permission must be granted by the author in writing prior to copy or republish this article in print or online. However, please feel free to copy the first paragraph with a link back to this page. Thank you.

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Comments 8 comments

ajayshah2005 profile image

ajayshah2005 5 years ago from Mid Asia

Thanks ingenira for Good article.See my exam related article on hubpages here http://hubpages.com/education/9-tips-to-obtain-goo...


jtyler profile image

jtyler 5 years ago

Good article. This is an excellent alternative to the way things are done now.


vettergt 5 years ago from Delaware

James,

When students had to pass a test to get promoted, also known as high stakes testing, it penalized students who were not good test takers. My friend in high school was not as good a test taker as I was and always did worse than I did, even though he understood the material more than I did. He would have possibly been screwed in a high stakes test. Furthermore, standardized tests have a low reliability when looking at one score (< 70%), but are very reliable when considering a group of 25 or more (> 98%). What a reliability score tells you is how well you would score on the exact same test the next time. So, important decisions were being made about individuals with an instrument that wasn't very good at dealing with individual results.

Furthermore, if students did fail the test, it may have not been their fault. They may not have had a good teacher since a lot of schools that are in the inner city are harder to staff with quality teachers.

Finally, let's assume that in a grade level of 100 students (4 classes of 25)about half of the students fail. That means that 50 students would repeat the grade and the 100 students who were coming up next year would be there, so now we have 150 students for 4 teachers (37 students per class) or 2 new (without the silent k) teachers would need to be hired. In a space limited school, that means 2 new portables and 2 new class sets of books, supplies, etc. You are now talking about an extra expense of $500,000 or more to educate 50 students who may have been able to pass on their own if they had a quality teacher or a test that better allowed them to show how much they knew (with the silent k). Regardless, education dollars are tight, so spending 1/2 of a million dollars because students did poorly on one test may not be the best idea.

By the way, in the two states I have taught (NV and VA), the high school students still must pass their state tests to get a high school diploma. They are given multiple chances if they do not pass the first time as a way to alleviate some of the above problems.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I can't say I know much about your schools over there. Here in the USA, we used to have to pass certain tests to advance in grade. Because those who failed to advance were predominately in groups of people that progressive educators wanted to give special privileges to boost their "self-esteem," testing was done way with. This made the progressives happy but within a decade or so it was observed that we were graduating persons from high school who could not read the dimploma they were given. An entire generation had literally been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, to make them all "equal." Equally non-achievers is more like it.

Now testing is back because people who care about the future of our country have decided that every child must now certain things before advancing through school—mostly how to read, write, and do basic arithmetic.


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago Author

Thank you, Treasures. :)


Treasuresofheaven profile image

Treasuresofheaven 5 years ago from Michigan

You have some good suggestions here Ingenira. I have always been a proponent for find strengths in children. I like your ideas. Glad you wrote this important piece of work.

Thanks!


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago Author

That is really an unfortunate but real obstacle to better student evaluation. If there is one school that can prove the success of such assessment, there will be higher chances that more educators may consider making it nation wide.


vettergt 5 years ago from Delaware

Interesting idea. Mutliple assessment styles present one major obstacle, more money. Multiple choice standardized tests are given because they are a cheap and quick way to find out how kids are doing. With each state looking for ways to cut funding for education, I just don't see this changing which is a shame because with oral exams, you could really delve into what a student knows and doesn't know.

But, I think we pay a lot of lip service into caring about children in this country. As long as it is within reason, we want them to have it all. And, by within reason, I really mean as long as it doesn't cost more than $200 per week. Most daycares charge that or less. A lot of districts that are not in high cost areas spend about that on a student. So, as long as the expense is $40 per day or what amounts to $5 per hour (not even minimum wage), we will give our children the moon or at least a made in China plastic replica bought on clearance.

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