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

Updated on August 17, 2012

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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