Standardized written tests are influencing more and more learners' lives, as a societal push for educational accountability has resulted in a major increase in the usage of these tests across districts and countries. Educators, scholars, and politicians argue the efficacy of paper-and-pencil tests, but one thing is clear: their usage appears to be increasing rather than decreasing.
Not everything that is valued in the classroom can be measured or assessed by a written test, nor should it be. Think about group problem-solving and oral communication - these are priorities in the classroom, yet, these skills cannot be measured on an individual paper-and-pencil test.
Educators must consider alternatives to traditional tests. Journals, interviews, observations, and portfolios are just some examples of alternative assessment strategies that can be used in the classroom. These alternative assessment techniques offer various benefits to educators and learners. Nontraditional assessments enable teachers to collect more detailed information about learners' progress than can be obtained from written tests.
Although written tests can provide educators with valuable information such as the learners' knowledge, skills, or abilities, these tests have many limitations.
A written test is just a glimpse of a learner’s performance on a specific day – it is impossible to capture all of the dimensions of learning and it doesn’t provide an opportunity for the student to react, ask a question, or follow up a response with a question or explanation. Also, some students are not good test-takers. Many students struggle with anxiety and freeze when they are given a paper-and-pencil test. It happens.
These learners may comprehend the topics, but they are unable to demonstrate their understanding in a written test setting. Another thing to consider is that educators often use different grading systems, which means that the same test can be graded differently by two teachers.
This brings us to the conclusion that no individual written test can accurately measure a student’s achievement, thus it is important for educators to search for alternative assessment techniques to assess student progress and achievement. Interested in similar articles? Click here.