A, B, C, D or All of the Above?


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            We all remember that time of year as an adolescent when we had to take our standardized tests. Up to three hours of pure boredom of writing in the box provided below and always "showing all work and explaining each step". These tests seemed like a gift of torture from our government. Now as I am past that stage of my educational process I pondered what the effects of these tests are. Are they even beneficial to teachers or students? My personal hypothesis is that the null holds true and that these tests do nothing for the teachers and students. Personally I think that the remedial aspects on these test downplayed my schools curriculum. The confounding factor that the test makers didn't think about was the demographics of the schools. All of the tests across the state were the same, and yes some of the simple math topics may have been difficult for some students in some areas but in others their simplicity was a nuisance and a waste of time.

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            One study disagrees with my hypothesis in saying that testing is beneficiary to schools because it increases pressure on teachers to improve their students' learning. "Fish found that apparent pressure on teachers to improve their students' test scores was influenced by a number of factors including: the degree and nature of administrator involvement, teachers' professional self-concepts, and teachers' years of teaching experience (Fish, 1988)". One important note Fish's study was that there was a confounding factor was that experienced teachers thought that inadequate test scores were caused by factors beyond their control "such as low student ability and discrepancies between the test and curriculum, than did novice teachers". I admired the variety of the observational studies. The study observed different types of teachers in various types of settings and this helped explain the confounding variables that were found.  

            But what about the effect it has on the students? I also thought that it had no effect on the students because the tests were too easy to make a student think about the testing process. Another observational study agrees with my hypothesis in saying that the tests do nothing for the benefit of the students. The study says that the important traits of learning ("Innovation, creativity and love of learning") are not enforced through these tests, so "Subjecting students to incessant drills and practice under the guise of test preparation does them few favors in the long run". The issue that I have with this notion from this study is that these matters are subject to opinion and frankly if you ask a child does a standardized test help you in your process of the love learning, many will say no simply because of the fact that many hate the tests and think they are boring.

A third finding collaborated the pros and cons of standardized test. The website stated "93% of studies on student testing, including the use of large-scale and high-stakes standardized tests, found a "positive effect" on student achievement". It showed a randomized study that also provided reasoning for students to benefit from standardized tests. As the first study stated this one alike said that students feel pressure to do well on these and gifted students in particular feel pressure to bring up scores and have frustration for these tests. With these conclusions from the study I inference that standardized tests are detrimental to the learning process of students because it doesn't allow them to enjoy learning materials with the thought in the back of their head that they are only doing this for the benefit of their teachers and school personnel.  

            With the results from all of the studies I chose to adjust my original hypothesis. Now I believe that the null hypothesis remains true in saying that standardized tests have no benefit with regards to students, but the opposite is true for teacher in which the alternative is true.

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1 Comment

I too wrote a blog on this subject and I have to say that after looking into it I feel that I feel more negative towards standardized tests than before. I may be biased towards the topic though because I have taken them and never liked them so I might be unconsciously looking for negative information. I think that the government puts unnecessary pressure on students and teachers and causes them to become less effective in the classroom.

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