Monday, April 4, 2016

Are standardized tests better than grades?

Sent to the Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2016
Supporters of the current testing program argue that standardized tests can help parents see how their children are doing in school ("Battle Lines Drawn as Student Testing Is Set to Begin" April 3). There is, however, no evidence that the current standardized testing program provides better feedback to parents than teachers' evaluations of students.
Studies done at the secondary school level show that grades are an excellent predictor of future academic success, and the results of standardized tests do not add additional information.
There are, in addition, reasons to think that teacher evaluation of students is better than standardized test scores.
The repeated judgments of professionals who are with students every day is probably more valid than a test created by distant strangers and given only once.
Moreover, teacher evaluations of students are “multiple measures," done by different teachers in different years, are closely aligned to the curriculum, and cover all subjects.
Proposals for giving students any standardized test must be accompanied by evidence showing that it provides more useful information than grades alone.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Studies at the secondary level: Bowen, W., Chingos, M., and McPherson, M. 2009. Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Universities. Princeton: Princeton University Press; Geiser, S. and Santelices, M.V., 2007. Validity of high-school grades in predicting student success beyond the freshman year: High-school record vs. standardized tests as indicators of four-year college outcomes. Research and Occasional Papers Series: CSHE 6.07, University of California, Berkeley.

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