During the 1970s and '80s, the pressure for students to attain high test scores on standardized, multiple-choice achievement tests spread to the primary grades. Tests such as the California Achievement Test (made by CTB/McGraw-Hill) or Metropolitan Achievement Test (Psychological Corporation), which are supposed to measure students' skills in specific areas like math or reading, are now given as early as grades 1 and 2.
The main reason for testing and evaluating students must be to improve student learning. Each year, however, public school students in the U.S. must take millions of standardized tests which are more harmful than helpful and which do nothing to improve the equality of instruction or learning for students.
Among the tests which are especially damaging to young children are readiness tests. Schools frequently use the scores from readiness tests to judge whether children are 'ready' for kindergarten or are 'ready' for promotion to first grade.
America's public schools administer more than 100 million standardized exams each year, including IQ, achievement, screening, and readiness tests.
Much of the time and money devoted to testing is misspent. Too many tests are poorly constructed, unreliable, and unevenly administered. Multiple-choice questions cannot measure thinking skills, creativity, the ability to solve real problems, or the social skills we want our children to have. Moreover, many exams are biased racially, culturally, linguistically, and by class and gender.
How do schools use standardized tests? Despite their biases, inaccuracies, limited ability to measure achievement or ability, and other flaws, schools use standardized tests to determine if children are ready for school, track them into instructional groups; diagnose for learning disability, retardation and other handicaps; and decide whether to promote, retain in grade, or graduate many students. Schools also use tests to guide and control curriculum content and teaching methods.
The State of Ohio legislators are bullying us into believing that:
TRUTH: Testing can never replace authentic learning demonstrated and evaluated in the classroom. NO single test can assess critical thinking and problem-solving skills adequately enough to be used for such high-stakes decisions.
The OPT one-size-fits-all assessment model is valid.
TRUTH: OPTs ignore individual learning styles and economic and cultural backgrounds.