The Differences Between Standardized Testing And Classroom Testing


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Classroom and standardized tests serve different purposes. Technically speaking, standardised tests are carefully constructed tests which have uniformity of procedure in administering, scoring and interpreting the test results.

They are generally constructed by a professional tester and typically administered once to larger population. No matter who gives the test or where it may be given, the result should be comparable. Final examinations are good examples of standardized tests.

The test items are prepared according to the blueprint. Only items with acceptable item difficulty index and discriminating index are included in the test. Item difficulty is simply the percentage of students who answer an item correctly while item discrimination index is a measure of the item to discriminate between those who know from those who do not know.

Standardized tests may be used for a wide variety of educational purposes, and it is important for educators to know when to use such. In most cases, standardized tests are conducted for selection or placement purposes. In schools, end of month or term or year tests mimic standardized testing.

The scores of standardized tests are interpreted as norm-referenced testing whereby the learners score is compared to the norm/average performance and rank-ordered. If the scores are ever interpreted as criterion-referenced, in this situation, the performance is compared to the initially set standards, and there is a possibility of all to perform to or above the standards as well as the possibility of all performing below the standards.

Standardized tests are reported in statistical terms of mean and standard deviations. The outcome is the final decision which does not involve the learner. The assessment is of learning for systemic decision-making. There is no feedback given to learners as such no room for improvement and motivation.

Classroom assessment is developed, administered, scored and interpreted by the classroom teacher at school level. It is a continuous process whose intention is solely to improve learning. As such, assessment is intertwined with instruction. Because of this, it must involve learners in its transaction. They should not appear merely as passive consumers of information, but rather create their own knowledge, critically reflect and assess their own learning through self and peer assessment. Thus, classroom assessment is formative in nature encompassing both Assessment for Learning (AfL) and Assessment as Learning (AaL).

All different kinds of achievement are assessed, ranging from knowledge, to attitudes and skills, something that standardised testing cannot. In the 21st century learning, classroom assessment is regarded as the indispensable educational reform to achieve the required knowledge and skills for a knowledge-based economy.

Classroom assessment is conducted using different test formats which include written tests, observations, surveys, interviews, performance, practical, portfolios, group work, self-assessments and peer assessments, to provide the teacher with a well-rounded picture, or photo album, of the students’ skills and learning of the essential outcomes. Classroom tests may not translate into scores hence the interpretation of the scores is criteria-referenced. It is not easy to effectively execute classroom assessment because of varied reasons one of them being inadequacy of assessment skills.

Feedback is an integral aspect of classroom assessment. It addresses both cognitive and motivational factors at the same time. The impact of feedback on student achievement depends greatly on the timing, the type of feedback, and how it is delivered to students. It becomes most meaningful to students when it is descriptive, focused while they are engaged in the learning process. 

Although implementing standardised testing in schools is highly discouraged, it can be used  sparingly, to provide an objective way to evaluate the effectiveness of the instruction by the system.


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