Chapter Summary

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.

Further Resources

 Additional References

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

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

Stiggins, R (2004). New Assessment Beliefs for a New School Mission, Phi Delta Kappan, 86(1) 22–27.