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ILA Issues Brief on Roles and Limitations of Standardized Reading Tests

By Alina O'Donnell
 | Nov 14, 2017

Standardized Reading TestsThe use of standardized test scores to measure reading proficiency is a long-standing source of debate in education reform. Although these scores provide useful information that may contribute to students’ reading growth, they are often considered the “coin of the realm”—silencing other valuable indicators and assessments while disproportionately influencing important educational decisions. Furthermore, low test scores can have cascading, negative impacts on students, schools and their surrounding communities—leading to poor student morale, high staff turnover, lower real estate prices and more.

According to ILA’s recent brief, the dominance of standardized reading tests “stems from an insufficient understanding of their limitations.” Without endorsing or negating their value, the brief explores the roles, uses and caveats of standardized reading tests to assess student achievement, compare students, evaluate programs, create educational policy and determine accountability.

ILA advocates for a different weighting of standardized reading tests as well as a more thorough understanding of reading development that recognizes “an array of formative classroom-based assessments.” The brief ends with five salient considerations that teachers and administrators can use to inform internal decision making:

  • There is no research that supports a correlation between increased standardized testing and increased reading achievement.
  • Standardized reading tests do not fully reflect students’ reading achievement and development.
  • Standardized reading tests can impede the development of students’ self-efficacy and motivation.
  • Standardized reading tests confine reading curriculum and can undermine high-quality teaching.
  • Standardized reading tests are time-consuming and expensive—demanding resources that could be used to support students’ reading achievement in other ways.

To read more, visit the brief here.

Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

1 comment

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  1. Palma | Nov 19, 2017

    I agree, standardize testing should not be the only indicator of a child's progress. There are many ways to test students. Keep in mind that all teachers are testing their students daily. As professionals, we should be informally testing our students daily. This is how we address children's individual needs. 

    I also feel that standard testing can be detrimental to a student. The stress alone can affect results. So, I believe it is best to rely on informal and well as formal testing when gathering statistics on a child's development.

    Lastly, some students just do not test well. If this is the case, the informal testing is very important. If you are a teacher that works with students daily, you are able to see the student's performance improve throughout the year. You can also see the confidence of the child building, which helps in the continued success of the student. This cannot be found on any standardized test.  Teachers need to rely on assessment which works well for them and their students. One can't get away from the standardize test but teachers can use the knowledge they have to acquired, to make an informed analysis of a child’s progress and their needs. Using multiple assessment tools is the best way to gather a wide range of results. 

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