6 Pros and Cons of Standardised Testing

by Grace Dickins

Standardised tests usually consist of true or false or multiple-choice questions with a smaller portion of the test dedicated to short-answer or essay questions, and test students on a range of subjects. Given the increasing significance of testing requirements through programmes, parents and students should understand the benefits and limitations. Here are six pros and cons of standardised testing:


1. Objectivity

Standardised tests require students to answer the same questions and are scored consistently, facilitating the comparison of students and groups of students. Since all students answer the same questions to measure their academic strengths, this may eliminate bias caused by favoritism and subjective evaluation, as standardised tests are generally scored by a computer.

2. Multi-Purpose

The tests can be used to determine whether a small child is ready for school or if a student needs special-education services or other academic support. Teachers benefit by receiving guidance on which subject should be taught to students at what time, increasing instructional efficiency. Also, a student's growth can be charted over time, providing parents with an indicator of how their child is doing compared to national standards. The information gathered also allows the government to determine which educational policies may be deficient.

3. Accountability

In addition, standardised tests can help hold schools and instructors accountable for poor scores. If students do not learn the required material, both teachers and administrators face consequences, including job loss, school closure or unaccreditation.


4. Subjectivity

Conversely, there are many justified criticisms of standardised testing. There is still room for subjectivity in the process. The choice and presentation of the questions, as well as the phrasing and subject matter, can include cultural bias. A small group establishes the standard, determining the number of students who pass or fail.

5. Teaching to the test

A heavy standardised test load can limit teachers, requiring that they "teach to the test" instead of instructing on other subjects, inflicting drudgery on students and teachers alike. High-stakes testing can increase pressure to the point that everyone in the classroom feels stress, resulting in teacher burnout and feelings of negativity toward learning in general.

6. Evaluates test-taking abilities

It is important to remember that standardised testing shows how well a student takes a single test on a particular day. There are students who understand the material but are not good test-takers. There is no way to account for external factors, including stress in the home, ill health, or anxiety caused by the test itself.