Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Standardized Testing? I Think Not...

It's always interesting when my unschooling worldview collides with the educational world in one of my teaching classes. This is a result from this week of such a collision:

The following paper will evaluate assessment tools available for teachers. These assessment tools will be divided into four different areas (1) interests, (2) ability/ intellectual levels, (3) achievement levels, and (4) personality tests. Each test will undergo thorough examination to understand how it achieves its goals. As a disclaimer: this educator does not necessarily agree with the use of such tests. This educator believes that all children learn differently. Grouping individuals into neat little boxes, even it just be through a personality test, in this educator’s opinion, borders the ideas of astrology (the grouping of different personalities under a star’s sign). This educator believes that each child’s individuality is more complex than a so-called assessment can explain.

Part 1: Interests

The Scholastic Student Interest Inventory found at assesses a student’s interests by having the student take a paper-and-pencil test. It consists of fifteen
questions that the student answers – questions such as “What I like most about school is…” and
“I am really good at…” This test is thorough in discovering how students feel about themselves. It is able to be given individually or as a group (this educator would recommend giving it to the group). Depending upon the age of the students, they should finish the inventory within 30 minutes. The results of the test would show teachers what is perhaps the most important thing for a teacher to understand – how students feel about themselves and what they are interested in. Perhaps the most informative answers will be ones to questions regarding students’ favorite books and TV shows or how they would spend $1,000.00. Out of the inventories and tests, this is probably one that this educator would be more likely to use in the classroom. It always helps to know the likes and dislikes of students to know how to cater to their interests. Because this educator believes in child-directed learning, I could always have books and learning materials that my students would have an interest in (based upon this inventory) on hand.

The other inventory that this educator found helpful is the “Things My Child Likes to
Do” inventory found at This is definitely
something that this educator will give to parents of the children in my childcare. This educator
always appreciates knowing how well a child does at imaginative work. Imaginative play and
projects are encouraged at this educator’s childcare. If I would know in advance that a child
needs extra help in this area, I could provide materials that would cause this child to begin
using his/her imagination. This inventory is also helpful in the educator discovering if students
are independent learners. Independent learning is also something that is encouraged in this
educator’s childcare. This educator believes that while children need to develop social skills by
working in a group setting, they also need to know how to work independently in any workplace. “Things My Child Likes to Do” is a paper-and-pencil inventory that is filled out by the parent of a student. This is especially helpful in (1) younger children that are too young to fill out their own inventory and (2) knowing how the child’s home life is. Background is important in understanding how to teach children. The inventory is extensive – 14 questions. A parent
should be able to answer the inventory in approximately 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon how thoroughly the parent answers the questions. It is best that this test be handed out to parents before a child begins the class. The educator is able to score the test, as with the Scholastic inventory.

Part 2: Ability and Intellecutal Levels

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children is, as it states, a test to measure the IQ of
students. According to, is an individually-given
assessment that measures the verbal, reasoning, compression, speed, and memory abilities of
students. The test is meant for students ages six to sixteen. More information about the
inventory can be found at This website provide such information as the assessment is required to be administered by a trained examiner (no author, no date given). According to the information in these two websites, the test is very extensive, dividing students into categories based upon their IQ level. The test takes approximately 90 minutes and is administered partially verbally and partially written. Because the test is given by trained examiners, it is not found online and the results are calculated by these examiners. The results of the test show the IQ level of each student. This educator, personally, would probably not use such a test. If this educator were to teach in a school that required such testing, I would probably take the results lightly. This educator does not believe in standardized testing, because students do perform differently in real-life than they do on a test. Testing does not give accurate results of what a child’s intellectual level really is.

The Cognitive Abilities Test from Riverside Publishing ( is a paper-and-pencil, teacher-
administered test that assesses the cognitive abilities (reasoning skills) of students. The
Cognitive Abilities test appears to be less detailed than some other tests such as the Wechsler
Intelligence Scale in that it measures how high or low a student scores based upon grade level.
Also, where the Wechsler Intelligence Scale is administered to individual students, the Cognitive Abilities Test is administered to a group of students. Depending upon the age group of the students, the test takes approximately 30 minutes to one hour to administer. The test is not available online. It must be purchased from Riverside Publishing. The teacher, however, is
the one who scores the tests. The results of the test show teachers how to place students, particularly gifted students. Again, this educator would not probably not choose to use this type of standardized test. However, many teachers and school systems do use this type of test to see
how to group students. Students should not be placed in ability groups, but students of all
abilities should be grouped together. This type of test would show teachers how each child
scores in reasoning abilities and how to group students based upon their reasoning.

Part 3: Achievement Levels

Perhaps the most well-known standardized test is the Stanford Achievement Test,
administered to students in kindergarten through high school. The Stanford Achievement Test
( measures the academic ability of students. The Stanford Achievement Test is quite extensive, measuring students’ academic ability in reading, lexile measurement, mathematics, language, spelling, listening, science, and social studies. The length of time to administer depends upon the grade level and subject being tested. In many instances, there is no time limit. The Stanford
Achievement Test is available in paper-and-pencil format. It is not available online. This test
does have to purchased from Pearson. It is administered to a grade level. The teacher does
administer and score the test. Resources are available to assist the teacher with scoring. The
results of the test will show if teachers are being effective in their methods of teaching students – if students are comprehending the information being presented to them in the classroom. In all honesty, this educator does not see how this type of test is helpful in designing lessons other than showing the teacher how to teach a test. Children deserve more than to have their academic abilities measured against every other child in the United States.

The Kaufman Test of Education Achievement seems a little fairer than tests such as the
Stanford Achievement Test. According to the website, the Kaufman Test of Education Achievement measures the academic ability of students in preschool through twelfth grade, based upon norms such as gender, geographic location, socioeconomic status, and educational background of the parents. This test is said to be accurate and reliable in educational testing, with very little margin for error. It also covers all areas necessary under the Individuals with Disabilities Act. It is recommended for special education teachers. The test takes approximately 30 to 80 minutes to administer, depending upon the grade level. It appears that this test is available in paper-and-pencil form and computer form. It is group-administered, teacher-administered and scored. Pearson does have a computer program available to help teachers with scoring. The results will tell the academic ability of students and where these students need extra help. The Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement appears to be especially useful for special needs students. It could assist the teacher with knowing where these students need extra help, thus being able to plan lessons that will offer this extra help where needed.

Part 4: Personality Tests

The Myers-Brigg Type Indicator personality test groups students into psychological
types. The test is extensive, providing confidential feedback to the teacher about what type of
personality a student possesses. The time it takes to administer the test – by a trained expert – depends upon how long the students take to answer the questions. It is available in paper-and-pencil format. It is not available online, but may be ordered from MBIT – It is
administered individually, and the experts who administer the test also provide the feedback.
The results are to describe to teachers what type of person each student is. Is the student a
dominant person or a more laid-back person? Is the student an introvert or an extrovert? This educator once worked in a businesses that used personality tests regularly to determine how to manage the office. This educator did not agree with personality tests then and still does not. This educator believes that personality tests border on astrological conclusions. When people are grouped into neat little groups – whether they be based upon a personality test or an
astrological sign – idolatry can follow. What is important is that students are recognized for
their God-given individuality and talents.


The purpose of this paper has been to locate assessment tools available to teachers. It is
this educator’s humble opinion that the tools available are too standardized and do not accurately reflect the individuality of each student. It is this educator’s belief that students would benefit from the lessons presented by teachers if these teachers would rely less on standardized testing and more on good, old-fashioned observation of how each student learns best.


The Meyers and Brigs Foundation (no date given). My MBTI Personality Type. Retrieved
September 6, 2009, from

No Author (no date). The Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Retrieved September 6, 2009, from

Orfei, M. (2004). Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – 4th Edition. Retrived September 6,
2009, from

Pearson (no date). Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, 2nd Edition. Retrieved September
6, 2009, from

Pearson for Education (no date). The Stanford Achievement Test. Retrieved September 6, 2009,


Riverside Publishing. The Cognitive Abilities Test. Retrieved September 6, 2009, from

Scholastic (2009). The Scholastic Student Interest Inventory. Retrieved September 6, 2009,

University of Connecticut (no date). Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.
Retrieved September 6, 2009, from


1 comment:

Colleen said...

Love your conclusion! Unfortunately in a classroom setting teachers rarely get to know the individual child, or at least not all of the individual children in their class.