The Link: Standardized Testing

In recognition of the ending school year, we’re looking at standardized testing this month. In many places around the world, moving on to the next grade, to the next institution, or to the next level of professional achievement means scoring well on some sort of standardized exam. Many accept this, but others think there are better ways to encourage educational and professional success.

This month we will take a look at the pros and cons of legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act, explore the difference between college prep tests and graduate/professional tests, and compare standardized testing in the U.S. with the required tests around the globe.

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources can already be found in the ipl2 collection.

No Child Left Behind: Pros and Cons of K-12 Standardized Testing

President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act. Photo by the Executive Office of the President of the United States, public domain.

No Child Left Behind Act – U.S. Department of Education (find it on the ipl2)

No Child Left Behind was an act of Congress signed in 2002 with the intention of establishing goals and criteria for students to meet. The act requires that all states assess students at specific points within their education in order to receive federal funding. The U.S. Department of Education’s website provides information on the initial act, the changes made with No Child Left Behind, and the more recent additions and changes made by President Obama. U.S. Department of Education’s main purpose is to “promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” Their website serves as a portal of information about the department’s policies, goals, and information to the public.

The Inevitable Corruption of Indicators and Educators Through High-Stakes Testing – NEPC (find it on the ipl2)

This study, conducted by the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University in 2005, examines the effects of standardized testing with the principle of standardized testing. According to the study, Campbell’s law is: “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” This study is a part of the National Education Policy Center whose mission is to produce quality research which helps inform education policy discussions. The NEPC is composed of academic staff including nationally recognized education researchers.

Standardized Testing – (find it on the ipl2) is a nonprofit public charity whose goal is “to provide resources for critical thinking and to educate without bias.” The page on standardized testing includes arguments both for and against standardized testing as well as information on the history of testing, and interesting facts about standardized tests. (find it on the ipl2) or The National Center for Fair and Open Testing “works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally.” FairTest’s resources provide information for parents, teachers, and students. Information that can be found include a list of universities that no longer require SAT/ACT scores, data on the link between standardized testing and educational corruption, and discussions on high stakes testing.

College Prep Tests

The first standardized college entrance exam was given in 1901, and ever since the tests have gained prominence as a larger percentage of students plan to further their education at colleges and universities. Although these exams are only part of the college application process, some high school students prep years for the SAT and ACT tests in order optimize their chances for getting into their first choice school.

SAT vs. ACT: Choose Wisely – Huffington Post (find it on the ipl2)

The areas of popularity in the country is not the only difference between the two tests; did you know that the SAT and ACT also differ in test style and time length? Since colleges and universities accept either, make sure you take the one that best suits you.

Test Prep – Petersons (find it on the ipl2)

Whether you choose the SAT or ACT route, it’s good to have an idea of what to expect before you actually take the exam. Peterson’s offers both full-length ACT and SAT free practice tests on their website (registration is required).

Graduate and Professional Tests

For students looking to go on to pursue their Master’s or even Doctoral Degree, even more standardized testing lies in your future: from the PRAXIS for teachers, GRE for general, MCAT for doctors, and LSAT for lawyers, an aptitude for the field needs to be shown before you can be admitted to a graduate program.

World’s Would-Be Grad Students – Inside Higher Ed (find it on the ipl2)

Educational Testing Service recently released data that illustrates “why foreign talent is so important to American graduate programs, especially in math, science and technology fields.”  The results allow colleges to understand the different contexts in which the scores are examined.

Business Schools Know How You Think – Wall Street Journal (find it on the ipl2)

A trend among business schools is starting to take more than GMAT scores and academic achievements into account. Emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), a tool used by companies to assess top talent, is becoming a standard part of the business school application process. “While a low EQ won’t outright ruin someone who otherwise dazzles on paper, Mr. Garcia says, a high EQ—in certain cases, at least—can offset mediocre performance elsewhere.”

The G.R.E. vs. the GMAT – New York Times (find it on the ipl2)

“The Educational Testing Service administers the G.R.E. and used to do the same for the GMAT before losing the rights two years ago to ACT Inc. and Pearson. Now it is trying to get some of that business back, lobbying business schools to accept the G.R.E. as an alternative to the GMAT: more than 115 have agreed, including at Stanford, M.I.T. and Johns Hopkins. What’s the difference between the tests? Both assess verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and writing. “Contrary to what people might think, there are no business or finance aspects of the GMAT that make it specialized,” says David G. Payne, an associate vice president of E.T.S.”

Standardized Testing Around the Globe

New! Action Canada Task Force on Standardized Testing

The Action Canada Task Force Project is comprised of young, educated Canadian citizens with brought together by Action Canada (, a national fellowship program that builds practical leadership skills and policy development experience. Three Action Canada three task force teams are formed each year and are given the challenge of selecting a policy research topic. This Task Force chose to focus specifically on standardized testing because of the importance that this accountability measure has taken during the past two decades in Canadian context.

Could You Pass the 11-Plus? – BBC News (find it on the ipl2)

BBC News gives its readers an opportunity to test their academic skill by taking a timed, 15-question sample of the formally required standardized test given to all U.K. schoolchildren in their final year of primary school. Are you smarter than an English 5th grader was expected to be 40 years ago?

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – OECD (find it on the ipl2)

PISA is an international study that was launched by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1997. It aims to evaluate education systems worldwide every three years by assessing the competencies in the key subjects such as reading, mathematics and science of 15-year-old children all over the world. Over 70 countries and economies have participated in PISA. The OECD’s website provides several comprehensive videos on the benefits of this assessment.

New! Testing and Assessment – U.K. Department of Education

The U.K. Department of Education uses this site to break down the National Curriculum assessments, or “the statutory assessments at the end of each Key Stage” of public education. This site links to official documentation on the material covered in standardized exams and other FAQs about administration of them. It also provides information on “optional tests.”

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