Social, Legal and Ethical Implication of Tests
Why is there Criticism against Standardized Tests?
Standardized tests are so called because the same tests are administered uniformly to all the test takers and scored in a consistent manner. Standardized tests are considered a tool to compare test-takers in an objective manner. But some criticisms of standardized tests have evolved due to various factors.Standardized tests by themselves cannot harm students but the results can be manipulated and misused which may prove to be harmful. Standardized tests can be beneficial when used correctly but they do have certain limits leading to some criticisms of standardized tests which one has to understand and strive.
Why the Standardized tests are termed culturally inappropriate?
Some criticisms of standardized tests are based on the fact that the content as well as process of testing is culturally inappropriate. In many cases the content of a standardized test may be more relevant to a particular cultural group than others. For instance those who belong to a country and are exposed to its history and culture may find it easier to score on the test based on their culture whereas it would not be the same for a foreigner. Besides each culture may have different views on what constitutes intelligence.
A common criticism of standardized tests is that they are not really fair. Standardized tests entail questions in multiple-choice format whch require all the students to choose one correct answer. The detractors claim that the tests do not measure intelligence or creativity in any field but merely reward the skill to answer questions quickly without devoting much thinking. The format of standardized tests may force teachers to spend much time in teaching their students strategies to take the test rather than imparting any quality education. Students may end up focusing on limited topics rather than acquiring valuable learning skills.
Why are standardized Test scores not helpful to teachers?
Another criticism of standardized tests are they do not help the teacher in a classroom setting as the scores do not indicate the thinking skills of the students or how he learns. Standardized tests have multiple choice tests which do not measure the student’s ability to write, to understand the meaning of texts while reading, or to use math. In such a scenario, the scores would not be helpful to the teacher to plan the program of study with reference to the student. Instead the teacher could get more useful information about the student through observation and good evaluation based on his performance on real learning tasks.
What are the negative effects of Standardized Tests on students?
One of the criticism of standardized tests is that the fail to measure the problem solving ability, reading comprehension, and creativity of the student. Certain high-stakes standardized tests create emotional stress on students which can be exhibited in various ailments suffered by these students. There are cases of aggression, physical duress, and emotional outbursts experienced by students faced with standardized tests. Teachers and schools pressurize the students to perform well while the students themselves may resort to unscrupulous methods such as cheating in order to perform well.
Rational of a Test
Measures of student performance (testing) may have as many as five purposes:
- Student Placement,
- Diagnosis of Difficulties,
- Checking Student Progress,
- Reports to Student and Superiors,
- Evaluation of Instruction.
Unfortunately the most common perception is that tests are designed to statistically rank all students according to a sampling of their knowledge of a subject and to report that ranking to superiors or anyone else interested in using that information to adversely influence the student’s feeling of self-worth. It is even more unfortunate that the perception matches reality in the majority of testing situations. Consequently tests are highly stressful anxiety producing events for most persons.
All too often tests are constructed to determine how much a student knows rather than determining what he/she must learn. Frequently tests are designed to “trap” the student and in still other situations tests are designed to insure a “bell curve” distribution of results. Most of the other numerous testing designs and strategies fail to help the student in his learning process and in many cases are quite detrimental to that process.
Examining a single student’s performance collectively for a group of learning objectives may be used to determine proper placement within that group of learning objectives.
It is therefore important that the instructional developer construct each question so that a correct response indicates mastery of the learning objective and any incorrect response provides information about the nature of the student’s lack of mastery. Furthermore, each student should have ample opportunity to “inform” the instructor of any form of lack of mastery. Unfortunately the mere presence of a test question influences the student’s response to the question. The developer should minimize that influence by constructing questions which permit the student to make any error he would make in the absence of such influence.