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Pros and Cons of Authentic Assessment and Standardized Testi

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Arlene Dorvil

on 20 March 2014

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Transcript of Pros and Cons of Authentic Assessment and Standardized Testi

Pros and Cons of Authentic Assessment and Standardized Testing
What are Authentic Assessments?
"Performance assessments call upon the examinee to demonstrate specific skills and competencies, that is, to apply the skills and knowledge they have mastered." -- Richard J. Stiggins --
History of Standardized Tests
Standardized tests have been a part of American education since the mid-1800s. Their use skyrocketed after 2002's No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) mandated annual testing in all 50 states. US students slipped from 18th in the world in math in 2000 to 31st place in 2009, with a similar decline in science and no change in reading. Failures in the education system have been blamed on rising poverty levels, teacher quality, tenure policies, and increasingly on the pervasive use of standardized tests.

No Child Left Behind
Also more commonly known as performance assessments. A performance assessment is set to measure whether a student fully grasps the educational content. For example, in a science lesson, instead of traditional assessments that feature multiple choice, an authentic assessment would require students to perform a scientific experiment.
What are standardized tests?
A standardized test is any form of test that
(1) requires all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions from common bank of questions, in the same way, and that
(2) is scored in a “standard” or consistent manner, which makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individual students or groups of students.

While different types of tests and assessments may be “standardized” in this way, the term is primarily associated with large-scale tests administered to sizeable populations of students, such as a multiple-choice test given to all the eighth-grade public-school students in a particular state, for example.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, signed into law by President Bush on Jan. 8, 2002, was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the central federal law in pre-collegiate education. The ESEA, first enacted in 1965 and previously reauthorized in 1994, encompasses Title I, the federal government's flagship aid program for disadvantaged students.

Coming at a time of wide public concern about the state of education, the NCLB legislation set in place requirements that reached into virtually every public school in America. It expanded the federal role in education and took particular aim at improving the educational lot of disadvantaged students.

At the core of the No Child Left Behind Act were a number of measures designed to drive broad gains in student achievement and to hold states and schools more accountable for student progress. They represented significant changes to the education landscape (U.S. Department of Education, 2001).
Authentic Assessments
IQ Tests
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales
Differential Ability Scales
ACT (American College Test)
SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)
LSAT (Law School Admission Test)
OAT (Optometry Admission Test)
Examples of Standardized Tests
Students produce their own work and demonstrate their knowledge in essays or reference papers
Collection of student work that shows progress
Students demonstrate understanding by performing a task and completing it using necessary steps
: Students collaborate and produce a project to display their knowledge, often involves multimedia, and presentations
Examples of Authentic Assessment
Began in 1998 as a plan to increase student achievement by implementing higher standards.
Measured student progress toward Sunshine State Standards.
A standardized test administered to all Florida students grade 3-11.
Measures proficiency in Math, Reading, Writing and Science.
Critics of the FCAT state that standardized testing is not an accurate way to measure student performance and knowledge.
Florida: FCAT
Part of the education reform in the 1990s and lead by reformist Grant Wiggins.
Wiggins asserted that forced choice tests (multiple choice, true/false) did not produce true intellectual performance.
Standardized testing was largely criticized for narrowing curriculum to basic skills, states began using Authentic learning to promote higher-ordered thinking.

History of Authentic Assessments
What are the Pros of Authentic Assessment?
Connects students with real life skills
Life is not measured with multiple choice tests, it is more complex and often requires students to demonstrate their knowledge.
Traditional tests only encourage students to recall what was learned.
Combines teaching, learning, and assessments to promote student learning and engagement.
Students are proven to perform better when they know how they will be judged
Students understand the criteria for performance
Understanding learning objectives fosters higher order learning skills
Provides different ways of learning
Every student learns in his or her own way
Caters to students who have different learning styles
Captures the nature of learning
Reciting and recalling facts is not the way humans learn.
Learning is best when we are actively engaged in the construction of meaning.
It is a direct measure of knowledge
The ultimate goal of education is using the acquired knowledge and skills in real world
Promotes direct evidence of competence
Cons of Authentic Assessments
Subjectivity in scoring
Difficult to assess what is relevant and important among different educators
Limits skills and knowledge that is assessed
Time constraints
Teachers have a limited time with students
The earliest record of standardized testing comes from China, where hopefuls for government jobs had to fill out examinations testing their knowledge of Confucian philosophy and poetry. In the Western world, examiners usually favored giving essays, a tradition stemming from the ancient Greeks' affinity for the Socratic method. But as the Industrial Revolution (and the progressive movement of the early 1800s that followed) took school-age kids out of the farms and factories and put them behind desks, standardized examinations emerged as an easy way to test large numbers of students quickly.
In 1905 French psychologist Alfred Binet began developing a standardized test of intelligence, work that would eventually be incorporated into a version of the modern IQ test, dubbed the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test. By World War I, standardized testing was standard practice: aptitude quizzes called Army Mental Tests were conducted to assign U.S. servicemen jobs during the war effort. But grading was at first done manually, an arduous task that undermined standardized testing's goal of speedy mass assessment. It would take until 1936 to develop the first automatic test scanner, a rudimentary computer called the IBM 805. It used electrical current to detect marks made by special pencils on tests, giving rise to the now ubiquitous bubbling-in of answers.
Pros of Standardized Testing
Proponents say standardized tests are a fair and objective measure of student achievement
They ensure teachers and schools are accountable to taxpayers, and that the most relevant constituents – parents and students – approve of testing.
Standardized tests are reliable and objective measures of student achievement.
Without them, policy makers would have to rely on tests scored by individual schools and teachers who have a vested interest in producing favorable results. Multiple-choice tests, in particular, are graded by machine and therefore are not subject to human subjectivity or bias.
Cons of Standardized Testing
Exams are not adept at determining how well teachers have taught or how well students have learned
Standardized testing has not improved student achievement
The US continues to fall behind in Global tests
Measure only a small portion of education
Cannot measure creativity and critical thinking and other traits that we learn in school
Teaching to the test
Teachers feel pressured to have their students pass, so they do not focus on any other material besides basic core curriculum
Narrows curriculum drastically
They are actually not objective
Standardized tests are unfair and discriminatory against non English speakers and students with special needs
English language learners take tests in English before they have mastered the language. Special education students take the same tests as other children, receiving few of the accommodations usually provided to them as part of their Individualized Education Plans (IEP).
Multiple Choice is inadequate
Simplistic and doesn't apply in the real world.
The people who grade standardized tests are unqualified
Usually underpaid and have no educational experience
School officials try to curve test scores by suspending students or encouraging them to miss schools on test days.
Some students do not take the test seriously
Older students usually guess on the test since it does not effect whether they graduate or not
The Problem
Most parents approve
75% of parents say that standardized tests are a solid measure of student abilities, according the the Center for Public Affairs Poll conducted in 2013.
Most teachers and administrators approve of standardized tests
Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA) approved of standardized tests "by an overwhelming two-to-one margin," saying they "improved student attitudes, engagement, and effort."
Teacher graded assessments are biased and unreliable
They are subjectively scored

The Goal of Authentic Assessments
The goal of Authentic Assessments is to make sure students fully grasp material by assessing them doing a task related to the material. Instead of asking them to recall information, and simply writing in the answer, authentic assessment is a demonstration of skill. The ultimate goal is to prepare students for real world assessments, because proponents of this method stress that the real world is not like the SAT.
The Goal of Standardized Tests
The goal of Standardized tests is to measure all students by the same standard in a non-biased way. It is to rank students from best to worse and keep track of their demographics.
Both methods have their flaws and their merits. As time goes on, most professionals rally against traditional methods of instruction and are leaning towards more authentic methods of teaching. As educators, we must actually educate ourselves and see what is best for our students. Traditional teaching does have its own benefits and many say a combination of both works best. It is up to educators of the future to be on the cutting edge and do what is best for children.
The state of Florida has announced that a new test will be administered in place of the FCAT.
The new test is called AIR, which is designed to give a more authentic assessment to students. The new test will begin in spring 2015
The FCAT will still be administered to some grades until it is phased out eventually.
O'Malley, J., & Pierce, L. (1996). Authentic assessment for english language learners: Practical approaches for teachers. (1 ed., Vol. 1, p. 23). New York: Addison-Wesley.

Oxford Academic (Oxford University Press) (2013, May 9) The dangers of standardized testing retrieved march 10, 2014

Wiggins, G. (1998). Educative assessment. (1 ed., Vol. 1). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wiggins, G. (1993). Assessment: Authenticity, context andvalidity. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(3), 200–214.
Yalina Torres
Arlene Dorvil
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