Standardized Testing vs. Authentic Assessment

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Tiffany Krasley and Danielle White

Authentic Assessment vs. Standardized Testing

Assessments are an important part of the education process. They are essential for measuring student's progress and allow teachers to develop effective lesson plans. Recently there has been controversy surrounding the most valuable way to assess student's knowledge. Standardize testing and authentic assessments are in the forefront of this debate. Standardized testing has been brought back into the public's eye since the No Child Left Behind act has been implemented.

Standardized testing has been a way of assess students for many years. This form of evaluation consists of teachers preparing students for tests by lecturing information to them. The information they learned will be examined by use of typical multiple choice questions where they are to complete the assessment by choosing the correct response or they must complete series of short answer and essay questions. This type of assessment requires the teacher to determine the body of knowledge first, which will become the curriculum. These test based assessments are delivered in order to determine if the acquisition of the knowledge occurred and often follow a statewide curriculum (Wiggins, 1990).

A more recent form of assessment is known as authentic assessment. This procedure includes observing, recording and otherwise documenting the work that children do and how they do it as a basis for educational decisions that affect those children (Black, 1994). There are many characteristics such as emphasis on emerging development and using developmentally appropriate material. This type of assessment is based off of real life instruction. This style of assessment allows flexibility in curriculum planning and provides the opportunity for constant evaluation.

There are numerous pros and cons to both sides of assessment in this enraged debate. A number of researchers believe that using Standardized testing makes it easier for districts and states to figure out statewide curriculum, while Gardner has determined "...evidence exists to indicate that assessment material designed for one target audience cannot be transported directly to another cultural setting; there are no purely culture-fair or culture -blind materials" (Gardner, 1991). However, the multiple choice used in standardized testing deters teacher's bias against students and also provides documented accountability. This form of testing also claims to level the playing field and make every child hold the same accountability. Authentic assessment argues that there are different types of learners that standardized testing fails to take into account. This assessment allows the whole child to be tested. Advocates of authentic assessment feel standardized testing forces teachers to teach to the test and overlook important curriculum such as social studies, art and music.

As future teachers many of us will be able to choose between standardized testing and authentic assessment. However, some teachers will be forced to use standardized testing due to NCLB. Whatever the case may be it will be necessary to have appropriate forms of assessment. We both agree that authentic assessment is an ideal way to evaluate student's abilities; however it is likely that as teachers you will need to use both in your classroom.






Works Cited

Black, J. (1994). Authentic Assessment of the Young Child. New York: Macmillan College Publishing Company.

Gardner, H. (1991). The Alternative to Standardize testing. New York: Basic Books.

Volante, L. (2006). Toward Appropriate Preperation for Standardized Achievement Testing. The Journal of Education , 129-141.

Wiggins, G. (1990). The Case for Authentic Assessment. ERIC Digest , 1-4.




1)      In what ways could you as a future teacher balance using both standardized and authentic assessment?

2)      Why do you feel NCLB places so much emphasis on standardized testing being the best way to assess education? Do you agree with the initiative behind it?

3)      In what ways would it be challenging to use authentic assessment as the only source of evaluation?

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1) In what ways could you as a future teacher balance using both standardized and authentic assessment?

As with many of the other critical issues in education,there never seems to be one concrete way of doing things, it is usually a combination of both methods. Furthermore, I feel it is useful for a teacher to combine both methods of assessment for creating the most effective way of assessing students progress to note where they are at. For example, standardized testing, or traditional, could just be an asset to authentic learning. The main focus could be authentic assessment, where the teacher is constantly monitoring and assessing the students. However, standardized testing could play a role in this by proving a more unified information for the teacher to see where the class is as a whole and where they are compared to other classes. One probable method of balancing the two methods would be to use authentic assessment as a way of preparation for the standardized tests. However, I definitely think that using standardized tests as the only means of assessment is not a good idea because of the "one size fits all" theory. Not all students in todays classrooms are the same, and as a result, the results of the assessment may not be correct and skewed inproprotiantely in one direction or another. Therefore, while we may try hard as teachers to balance the two types of assessments, I think that I will definitely lean more towards the authentic assessment as opposed to standardized.

2) Why do you feel NCLB places so much emphasis on standardized testing being the best way to assess education? Do you agree with the initiative behind it?

I think the reason that NCLB places so much emphasis on standardized testing being the best way to assess education is because standardized testing is probably the easiest way to go. To assess every child in the country with any other kind of test or assessment would be extremely difficult. I do not agree with the initiative behind it. There has to be a better way to assess student learning without using standardized tests. Not all students are good test takers, and like Tiffany and Danielle mentioned in class, there is no test out there that is without cultural bias. I just feel that there has to be a method of assessment that could be used in the place of standardized testing.

1) In what ways could you as a future teacher balance using both standardized and authentic assessment?

I strongly agree with Jenn. I think that it is impossible to choose one or the other and that we need a blend of the two assessments. While some might think it ideal to only use authentic assessment because you are looking at each child individually and how they learn in different ways, I think that, like Jenn, standardized assessments are needed to see a class as a whole and to compare them to other schools across the district, state, and country. It is important to remember to use authentic assessment because of the "one size fits all" theme of standardized assessment, as Jenn says. As a teacher I beleive that I will use both assessments, because I think both have some sort of importance and because NCLB forces us to use standardized assessment in some way or another. I will, however, lean more towards authentic assessment because that way I can see where each student individually stands and be able to lead my class better as a whole.

Question 1

I think that balancing the two forms of assessment is an important part of being a teacher.
Personally, I would primarily use authentic assessment. I'd like to keep running records and observe the students behavior and skills further than simply in terms of numbers. I think the best way to incorporate standardized testing into the curriculum is as end of the unit tests or some similar general knowledge use. It is important to see where the students stand in terms of where they are supposed to be according to the other classes and the curriculum. Using standardized testing in that way shows which students are behind, but because authentic testing is also being used, progress can still be recognized. If authentic assessment is the primary form of assessment, the teacher will have that knowledge and too much weight won't be put on the outcome of the standardized test results.

1. In what ways could you as a future teacher balance using both standardized and authentic assessment?

I agree with Jenn when she said that teachers never really have a concrete way of doing things. I mean, teachers use a mix of different methods for different things. I believe a mix of standardized and authentic assessment would be successful. I mean, I don't think standardized testing will ever be extinct. Thinking back on my education, almost every class I have ever taken used some sort of multiple choice exam or essay test. I think standardized testing is good to use for chapter reviews and things of that nature to see if your students are comprehending the material. However, we know that not all students are good test takers and that standardized testing may not be such a good thing for them. Also, all students are not on the same level. Whether they have a language barrier or a learning disability, this "one size fits all" approach is unfair. In this case, using authentic assessment is much more helpful. If the teacher is constantly assessing his/her students, they will know their students' progress and where they stand academically. Though a multiple choice exam is okay occasionally, I believe authentic assessment is the better approach. Authentic assessment is also handy because the teacher can track their students' progress throughout the whole year, not just at the end of the chapter. I really like that authentic assessment is so ongoing. To bring up another point, I really liked Jenn's idea about using authentic assessment to prepare for standardized tests, like the PSSAs. I never really thought about this before. As I mentioned previously, we will never escape standardized testing, especially with the NCLB act. Using authentic assessment in our classrooms will balance out the push for standardized testing.

1) In what ways could you as a future teacher balance using both standardized and authentic assessment?
I also agree with Jen. There is no specific right or wrong way of assessment it is a mixture of both tradition and authentic assessments. Not all students learn the same way so I would use more of the authentic method in assessing this way I see were the students is troubling in. Also using standardize would benefit in helping write further lessons with a room to improve area for the students who do not seem to be “getting it”. I would teach to my students abilities and assess accordingly.

1. In what ways could you as a future teacher balance using both standardized and authentic assessment?
I agree with all of the comments above. I think that balancing both makes perfect sense. Although I think that the authentic assessment is more important you can, as Jenn stated, use the required standarized testing as a way of seeing how your class is doing as a whole. During the school year, you will be able to monitor your students to find their strengths and weaknesses. I think that once you find those you will be able to teach the students in a way that they can all learn. In the end you, as a teacher, might find that it helped your students all do the same on the standarized testing.

In answering question 2 I would have to answer the second part of the question first. Yes, I do actually agree with the initiative behind it. There does need to be some accountability for what children are learning and being taught. However, I do feel that there is too much emphasis place on teh standardized testing. I can understand the need for it and threasoning behind it but I just feel that there is not enough of the personal and individual aspect with it. I feel that the test scores should be used in combination with some sort of leveled assessmentas well and that the scores need to be looked at more on the individual level rather than the whole group. There should be some consideration given to the progress that is made from test to test and not just waht the overall scores are. Perhaps shortening the tests and giving them more frequently would give better insight to the progress of the students and by shortening the test you might even descrease the amount of pressure that is felt by the test takers.

1)In what ways could you as a future teacher balance using both standardized and authentic assessment?

It seems that in every debate about education there is no one simple answer. It's almost impossible to pick a single stance and base your curriculum entirely off of it. Assessment is no exception. While I don't agree with how much importance is placed on standardized tests I can see how it has a place in the school to see how your class is progressing as a whole. However as a future teacher I think that authentic assessment is much more useful. I like that authentic assessment takes different learners into account which is a place where required standardized tests are lacking. Another great part about authentic assessment is that it doesn't put as much pressure on the students. Also authentic assessment is usually done more often so it is easy for a teacher to closely follow their individual students progress. In the end I think I would use both forms of assessment. I think standardized testing has a place perhaps has chapter tests and final tests however I would want to use more authentic assessments.

This topic is not an easy one and it is one that many struggle with. It is hard to find a balance on which is the best or which is of better benefit to the student and too the teacher. We as teachers need to find a way to asses our students to make sure they are making progress and they are understanding what they are learning, but not to the point that there is so much pressure on the student. The authentic assessment seems to be of better benefit to the student and to the teacher since it can be done on a more regular basis. We as teachers need to find a way to assess ourselves and our students so we can guide our students to understand what they are being taught

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This page contains a single entry by DANIELLE MARION WHITE published on October 5, 2009 7:06 PM.

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