Standardized tests are the tests administered to a large number of students. This system has always been used as a tool to evaluate and obtain information about children’s literacy strengths, and also as a guiding tool to the instructors on what to teach the children (Shapiro, Keller, Lutz, Santoro & Hintze, 2006). Despite the advantages it has, the standardized test has always met a lot of challenges and oppositions. This write up discusses both the pros and cons of this system as well as the use of student portfolio for purposes of evaluating the students.
Pros of Standardized Tests
Those who support the use of this system have always argued positively about it. According to Epstein (2007), the use of standardized test is a good yard stick that evaluates students on a common platform throughout the nation. Through it, the students and schools can be ranked on a leveled ground. It is again observed that this system uses computer in checking the students papers and hence no biasness on the evaluation criteria.
According to Shapiro, et al (2006), the use of standardized tests also measures the students’ ability objectively, because it is not subjected to emotions or moods of the teachers involved in the evaluation. He also notes that this system is accountable since students have to be taught some specific basic principles and concepts, which are applicable when taking the tests.
Epstein (2007) notes that these tests are easier to administer to students since instructions are given to all the students who sit the tests. He added that through these test, students and teachers are motivated to work hard so as to acquire good rank nationwide. Epstein (2007) notes that the use of these tests also act as a guide to the teachers on what to cover and on what time to cover it. Finally, he notes that through this system the parents are able to know their children’s performance and also have an idea of how their region has performed nationwide. Finally, Epstein (2007) notes that through this system the government may easily find the best state and school to award, based on the merit.
Cons of Standardized Tests
The use of standardized tests has also been criticized by some people. Epstein (2007) noted that this system does not fully judge the students in terms of other capabilities and talents outside the academic qualifications. Furthermore, Shapiro, et al (2006) note that the tests can be bias when the questions are set according to the teaching styles of one particular state; this can give some students advantage over the others.
According to Epstein (2007), because the system puts more stress on the need for students to pass, it can lead to students being taught for extra time so that they can pass and the school gets a good rank nationally. This is tedious to the students who do not get time to relax. He also notes that this system can lead to students being drilled by their teachers on the tactics of how to pass exams, neglecting some general knowledge that can expose them to the innovation world.
Additionally, Shapiro, et al (2006) noted that this system can be quite demanding for the students since they have to get good academic results for a good ranking. In case, they fail to achieve their targets, the students become emotionally discouraged and this can lead to internal psychological war within a student. Finally, Epstein (2007) notes that since the government may at times award the best school, schools may engage in unhealthy competitions so as to be rewarded. In certain cases, schools may even assist their students cheat.
According to Meeus, Questier & Derks (2007), student’s portfolio is a selected work of a student, which can be used by the student himself or by the teacher to evaluate the student on some areas such as his/her behavior and learning over some period of time. A student portfolio can be selected depending on what the evaluation is intended for. The evaluation can be meant for showing the accomplishments of the student for the whole year, to obtain a sample of best work, and to academically rank a student in the class. Therefore, some of the student’s works that can be included in the portfolio are the student’s essays, homework, projects, and the pieces of art made by the student (Meeus, Questier & Derks, 2007).
Maintenance and Evaluation of the Portfolio
Meeus, Questier & Derks (2007) observes that the portfolios that are meant for student’s evaluation have to be first of all collected by the student and the teacher. Then the teacher is to keep the portfolio safe so that it can be retrieved when the time to use it approaches. When the time to use the portfolios comes, the teacher should first develop the evaluation procedures and then conduct a portfolio conference with the students for them to review their work and together discuss the progress.
Use of Student Portfolio as Summative and Formative Assessments
A formative assessment is the on-going kind of assessment, which can be done through observations and reviews of the student’s progress in class. This is majorly done in order for the instructors to adjust on their teaching approaches. In this kind of assessment, the portfolio can be used for the assessment, when the instructor uses the portfolio information as the basis of analysis of the student’s progress student (Meeus, Questier & Derks, 2007).On the other hand, summative assessment is the assessment done at the end of an instruction period, which can be an academic year. It is meant to determine student’s competency. Here again, the portfolio can be used to asses the cumulative results of a student (Meeus, Questier & Derks, 2007).
In conclusion, it is worth noting that the use of standardized assessments for students is not the perfect method for students’ evaluation, since it has weaknesses as have been discussed. Therefore, in order to have an all perspective addressing evaluation, there is a need for integrating the standardized assessments and the students’ portfolio results.