Standardized tests are assessments developed by a team of experts and administered in consistent ways. They are used primarily to insure accountability about students’ education—to provide evidence that students are learning desired skills and knowledge. Most elementary and middle school teachers are likely to be responsible for helping students attain state content standards and achieve proficiency on criterion-referenced achievement tests. In order to interpret test scores and communicate that information to students and parents, teachers have to understand basic information about measures of central tendency and variability, the normal distribution, and several kinds of test scores. Current evidence suggests that standardized tests can be biased against certain groups and that many teachers tailor their curriculum and classroom tests to match the standardized tests. A few educators have even been caught cheating—falsifying or “fudging” test results.
- The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA focuses on research and development that improves assessment and accountability systems. It has resources for researchers, K-12 teachers, and policy makers on the implications of NCLB as well as classroom assessment.
- This is the US Department of Education website devoted to promoting information and supporting and NCLB, the legislation that has increased the use of and reliance on standardized testing in the United States in recent years. Links for teachers and the summaries of the impact of NCLB in each state are provided.
- Assessment of K-12 Learning. This page of the TeachingEdPsych wiki has several activities about assessment—both as conducted by teachers and as represented in standardized testing. See especially the link called “Resources for Teaching Basic Statistical Concepts,” which takes statistical concepts much further than we were able to do in this chapter.
Fuhrman, S. H. (2004). Introduction, In S. H. Fuhrman & R. F. Elmore (Eds). Redesigning accountability systems for education. (pp. 3–14). New York: Teachers College Press.
Idaho Department of Education (2005–6). Mathematics Content standards and assessment by grade level. Accessed November 22 2006 from http://www.sde.idaho.gov/instruct/standards/
Novak, J. R. & Fuller, B (2003, December), Penalizing diverse schools? Similar test scores, but different students bring federal sanctions. Policy analysis for policy education. University of California, Berkeley School of Education: Berkeley CA. Accessed on September 21, 2006 from http://pace.berkeley.edu/pace_index.html
Stiggins, R (2004). New Assessment Beliefs for a New School Mission, Phi Delta Kappan, 86(1) 22–27.