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Standardized Testing Writing Guide

Essay paper writing

Academic writing


College and university students often have to write essays on standardized testing. As noted in the teaching methodology, the use of tests is one of the rational and effective additions to traditional methods of evaluation of knowledge, skills, and abilities of students at different levels of education.

Since the 90s, a number of publications about tests in the educational practice have appeared in the methodological literature. Currently, in many countries, there are several centers in which professional work with test methods takes place.

Testing has many significant advantages over other types of control. All they give a full basis for proving the relevance of an argumentative essay on standardized testing. In particular, the huge merit of tests is that they allow replacing a usual answer of a student "So it seems to me" with the words "I know it" or "I do not know it". This feature enables each teacher to use this type of control at any moment of the lesson, at different stages of the assimilation of new knowledge, in the study of any academic subject. And also to exclude the possibility of cheating and use of assignment writing service.


Historical review

Write in a research on standardized testing that, for the first time, a test arose as a method for studying individual differences. The time of its appearance is the end of the XIX - the beginning of the XX centuries, when psychologists tried to apply various methods of measurement to determine physical, physiological and psychological features of a person.

A rapid development of natural science facilitated the penetration of precise measuring methods into such "vague" spheres as psychology and pedagogy, which, in turn, led to the emergence and popularization of theories that explained the process of human development as changing and becoming more complicated with time.

The first scientist who tried to measure differences between people in the field of elementary mental processes was the Englishman Francis Galton (1882-1911). Carrying out studies of individual differences, he used a set of techniques for determining visual, auditory, tactile sensitivity, muscular strength, and other characteristics.

An important contribution of F. Galton in the development of the theory of tests was the definition of three basic principles:

  1. Applying a series of identical tests to a large number of people.
  2. Statistical processing of results.
  3. Selection of measurement standards.

It should be noted in a standardized testing research essay that these principles are used to this day. Based on series of tests, different types of norms are formed to evaluate the results. All modern tests are built on the basis of the statistical theory of measurements, and the idea of ​​an evaluation standard underlies the definition of tests as a standardized tool.

The term "mental test" became extremely popular after the publication of the article "Mental tests and measurements" by James McKeen Cattell (1860-1944) in 1890 with the afterword of F. Galton. An active supporter and propagandist of the test method, Cattell considered the test a means for conducting a scientific experiment with the corresponding requirements for the purity of research.

All these ideas put forward by J. Cattell form the basis for modern testology. The same conditions for all subjects, the same instructions, and their clear understanding by respondents – these are the fundamental principles that create the basis for standardizing the testing procedure. After additional research, the time limit was used depending on the age of subjects and specific characteristics of tests. The ideas of statistical processing of results are realized via fairly complex methods of analysis and modeling. In 1895-1896, two national committees were created in the United States. Their tasks were to unite the efforts of test specialists and to give general direction to the emerging researches in the area of testology.

A great contribution to the development of testing was made by the prominent French psychologist Alfred Binet (1857-1911). He can be considered in research papers on standardized testing as the father of modern tests designed to diagnose the intelligence development. Binet introduced the concept of intellectual level (later replaced by a mental age, and even later - by an intelligence quotient or IQ).

For a long time, tests were regarded as an instrument for individual measurements of individuals. The massive nature of testing caused the need to move from individual to group tests. In 1917-1918, the first group tests for the needs of the army appeared in the USA.

Developments of Arthur Sinton Otis (1866-1963) were used most widely. Otis offered two sets of tests (Alfa and Beta): for those who speak English and "mute" tests for those who do not speak or do not know the language. The main principles used in the compilation of these tests were systematized and subsequently formed the basis of the entire methodology of group tests.

At the same time, methods for results processing, creating test systems were developed. F. Galton was the first to use a method of statistical comparison of two series of variables. He introduced a joint ratio index called the correlation coefficient. Galton also deserves respect for studying the relationship between variables and constructing a regression line of one variable for another.

In 1896, Karl Pearson (1857-1936) presented the foundations of the theory of correlation. In 1904, Charles Edward Spearman (1863-1945) showed that the correlation between two variables indicates the presence of a common factor (the cause that determines the magnitude of these variables) and the specific factors inherent in each variable. C. Spearman was the founder of the two-factor theory.

It’s also worth mentioning in a standardized testing research that Louis Leon Thurstone (1887-1955) contributed to the further development of the idea of ​​factor analysis based on the understanding of intelligence as a unity consisting of several primary abilities (verbal, perceptual, memory, fluent speech). All these factors are equal. There is no single factor of intelligence.

With the help of factor analysis, it is possible not only to establish the relationship between the changes of several variables. The measure of their connection is determined, and the main reasons underlying these changes may be found. The achievements of correlation and factor analysis of that time find their application in modern studies.

It is important to emphasize in essays about standardized testing that, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the pedagogical direction in the development of testology has been determined. Tests were divided into pedagogical (Educational Test) and psychological - intended to define the level of mental development (Intelligence Test).

The main task of pedagogical tests was to measure the success of students in certain disciplines for a certain period of study, as well as the success of applying certain methods and teaching technologies. Pedagogical tests help to create the groups of learners mastering equal volume of material with the same speed.

It should be written in standardized testing research papers that the first pedagogical test was developed by American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike. He is considered the founder of pedagogical measurements. The book "Introduction to the Theory of Mental and Social Measurements" (1904) was the result of extensive research in the field of measurements and the use of the test method in pedagogy. The first standardized test published under the direction of E. Thorndike was intended for the solution of arithmetic problems.

In 1915, Yerkes created his own series of tests. The main difference was the change in the counting system. Instead of the age shares proposed by A. Binet, a subject received a certain number of points for each correctly solved test. This increased the convenience of conducting and counting the result of the test. The number of received points was translated into the ratio of talent or success according to the attached standards.

How to start a research paper on standardized testing?

Note in a standardized testing essay introduction that integration processes that characterize modern civilization gave impetus to the development of new areas of testing. It is kind of an introduction hook. Evaluation of the quality of education becomes increasingly important, as a number of countries that realize the advantages of comparing their own achievements with the international context increases.

Since 1959, major large-scale international research has been conducted under the guidance of The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), a non-governmental organization. IEA institutions are established in more than 45 countries around the world and involve ministries of education, pedagogical faculties of universities, research institutes.

IEA research is built in a special sequence. Its explanatory models are based on training programs. The task of the organization is to survey thousands of students in each country with the help of academic tests compiled on the basis of training programs and other activities.

The used tests on academic performance are aimed at measuring achievements of trainees. Results can be assessed in points, adjusted and compared with similar data for the country. The obtained information is correlated with other factors influencing academic achievements (for example, with the content of training, technical equipment of a school, the sex of students, and so on). The purpose of such research is to create a sufficiently flexible model that allows measuring the complex impact of the different educational factors on the process of mastering knowledge.

It also should be mentioned in a research paper about standardized testing that, in addition to the IEA, there are other organizations involved in international testing. For example, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (Hamburg), The International Centre for Pedagogical Studies (Sevres) conducted with the IEA a joint study on reading skills in 35 countries (1990). In this case, the definition of the best or worst country in the studied area was not the purpose of testing. The task of the research was to find the most effective learning conditions.

US situation

Today, a group of American highly qualified psychologists works to create educational tests. It’s worth writing in a “History of standardized testing in the United States” research paper that national tests were first compiled in 2 series, 2 versions in each series. Improving the methodology, American testers provided sample exercises for each section.

The development and evaluation of tests are carried out by special government services. In 1900, the College Entrance Examination Board was established in the United States. In 1926, the College Board accepted the SAT test. Tests for the qualification and professional assessment of the teachers' activities were developed. Since 1947, there is an Educational Testing Service which is considered the most representative research center.

By 1961, 2126 standardized tests were created in the USA. There are a lot of test publishers, the total output of which is several thousand different tests. Naturally, these developments differ in quality and in demand for them. The published tests are annotated annually, and the most significant examples are commented in the annual "Mental Measurement Yearbook".

Material for an “Advantages of a standardized testing” research paper

It should be written in essays on standardized testing cons that the popularity of the test method is explained by the main advantages listed below.

  1. Standardization of conditions and results

Test methods are relatively independent of the qualification of an examiner. Even a laboratory assistant with a secondary education can be prepared for this role. This, however, does not mean that it is not necessary to attract qualified pedagogues with a full-fledged education for preparing a comprehensive conclusion.

  1. Efficiency and economy

A typical test consists of a series of brief tasks. As a rule, not more than 1 minute is required for each of them, and the whole test takes about 1-1,5 hours. At the same time, a group of students is subjected to testing simultaneously, thus, considerable time usually spent on data collection is saved.

  1. Optimal complexity

Essays supporting standardized testing should also include information about the fact that a test compiled professionally consists of tasks of optimal complexity. At the same time, the average subject gains about 50% of the maximum possible number of points. This is checked through preliminary testing. If it becomes known that approximately half of the audience coped with the task, it is recognized as successful and left in the test.

  1. Reliability

This is, probably, the most important advantage of tests in the educational system which necessarily should be included to an outline for research paper on standardized testing. The lottery character of standard exams with “happy” and “unhappy” tickets has long become a legend. Such approach creates a threat of a low reliability - the answer to one fragment of the curriculum, as a rule, is not indicative for the level of mastering all the material.

In contrast, any competently constructed test covers the main sections of the curriculum (area of ​​knowledge, manifestation of some skill or ability). As a result, the opportunity that lazy persons will become excellent students and those diligent individuals will suddenly fall is sharply reduced.

  1. Justice

Justice is the most important social consequence of the advantages listed above. It should be understood as protecting from the bias of the examiner. A good test puts everyone in equal conditions. As we know, the subjectivism of the examiner is most strongly manifested not in the interpretation of the level of the problem solution (it is not easy to claim that black is white and that the solved problem is unresolved) but in the biased selection of tasks (easier assignments for beloved students, more difficult - for others).

Tests provide the most important function of the school as a social filter - a function of "social and professional selection". The fairness of such selection is of tremendous importance for the development of society. Therefore, it is so important for everyone who has access to tests and results to learn the culture of their competent and humane application. You may push forward the following standardized testing research paper thesis: only a conscientious and qualified user attitude to tests turns them into a tool that increases rather than reduces the level of justice in society.

  1. Possibility of computerization

In this case, this is not just an additional convenience which reduces the living labor of skilled performers during a mass survey. As a result of computerization, all test parameters are improved (for example, with adapted computer testing, the time of an exam is sharply reduced).

Computerization is a powerful tool for ensuring information security (reliability of results). Organization of computer testing, which involves the creation of powerful information databases with test tasks, allows to technically prevent the abuse on the part of unscrupulous examiners. The tasks offered on a particular subject can be chosen from a database by the computer program during testing, and in this case, presenting of a particular task is as much a surprise for the examiner as for the examinee.

It may be noted in an essay on testing that, in many countries, the introduction of the test method (as well as resistance to this implementation) is closely related to socio-political circumstances. The introduction of well-compiled test services in education is an important tool in the fight against corruption that affects the ruling elite.

Test services work independently of providers (schools) and consumers (universities). They give the applicant an opportunity to get an independent certificate of test results, with which he can be sent to any institution. This independence of the testing service from providing and consuming organizations is an additional factor in the democratization of the selection of professional cadres in society, which gives a talented and efficient person an opportunity to prove himself.


Arguments for essays against standardized testing

The test method has some very serious drawbacks that do not allow to reduce all diagnostics of abilities and knowledge exclusively to testing. You may choose one of the research paper topics about standardized testing focused on the weaknesses of this technique.

  1. The danger of "blind" (automatic) errors

The blind faith of low-skilled performers in the fact that the test should work correctly in any situation gives rise to mistakes and unpleasant incidents: the student did not understand the instructions and began to respond completely differently than the standard instruction requires; for some reason, the subject used a distorting tactic, there was a shift in the matching of the key stencil with the sheet of answers (for manual, non-computer score counting), etc. The user should not consider the test as a magical black box which should always work properly without any control on the part of the examiner.

  1. The danger of profanity

It's no secret that the external ease of testing attracts people who are not suitable for any qualified work. Compiling the tests of low quality and making loud advertising, non-experts aggressively offer their services to everyone and everywhere. All problems are supposed to be solved with the help of 2-3 tests "for all cases of life". The new label is attached to the quantitative score - a conclusion that creates the illusion of conformity with the diagnostic task.

Read the criticizing articles on standardized testing (research paper should be based on real-life examples). The widespread use of the MMPI clinical test for the selection of personnel is often described as a manifestation of profanity in such sources. Unfair profanation and elementary ignorance go hand in hand in the field of testing.

  1. Rigid procedure causing stress

The test is a common ranking system intended for all people. The opportunity to miss a bright individuality, a non-standard person is one the most important negative factors to include in a standardized testing essay outline. This is felt by subjects themselves, and this makes them nervous, especially in the situation of attestation testing. People with low stress-resistance have even a certain violation of self-regulation - they begin to worry and make mistakes in elementary questions. Only qualified and conscientious examiner can notice such a reaction to the test in time.

  1. Loss of the individual approach

Tests are primarily focused on the standard application of a ready information. The lack of an opportunity to reveal the unique individuality is an irreplaceable shortcoming of the test method. From the standpoint of identifying creative potential, most of the tests are limited to the fact that they do not appeal to constructive activity.

Even creative standardized tests deal with very abstract material, and tests of achievements (knowledge) adapted on the "palpable" (professionally relevant) material are usually performed in the form of a standard set of tasks with ready answers. Based on this argument, you can describe why standardized testing has made students unable to write essays.

  1. Lack of confidence environment

In the case of psychology, the soulless and formalized nature of a testing procedure results in the fact that the subject is deprived of the feeling that a psychologist is interested in him personally, that he wants to help in solving his problems and difficulties. Dialogue methods (conversation, game) have undoubted advantages in this plan: direct communication with a subject, a qualified psychologist can establish confidential contact, show personal participation and create an atmosphere that relieves tension.

  1. Inadequate complexity

Sometimes unqualified testers force a child to pass tests too complicated for him by age. He does not yet have the necessary knowledge and skills to adequately comprehend both the general instructions to the test and the meaning of individual questions.


What to write in a conclusion of a “Pros and cons of a standardized testing” essay?

Answering standardized test essay questions about their benefits or harm, you may write that this technique can't be considered as the only exhaustive method for any diagnosis (educational, professional or personal). Tests require a parallel use with written works (essays, tests with a free response) and oral interviews. Thus, the task of tests is to complement the traditional methods mentioned above. They are indispensable in this role since tests do not have many disadvantages inherent to traditional methods.

Calm awareness of merits and demerits of the testing method frees everyone (performers, consumers, test subjects) both from excessive hopes for the test method and from neglecting it.

The reasons for the emergence of testing in the US

To write a good “Is standardized testing necessary?” essay, it is worth considering the prerequisites for the popularization of this form of control in the United States. Until the end of the last century, Washington did not pay attention to schools at all. In the 1930s, one of the politicians described the attitude of authorities to the education: "In a public school, an American is required to learn to read, write, to master the basics of mathematics (counting) and patriotism".

So it's no surprise that most schools in the country could teach nothing more than patriotism. Only in the Northeast of the USA (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and partly New York), local authorities paid due attention to free education. It is no coincidence that high-level public schools which may be found in the top ten of the country are situated in this region.

The situation was much worse in the center and south of the country. The local authorities did not have enough money to repair schools, to hire professional teachers. That's why they taught something and somehow. There was no use in hoping for the help of the educational system in order to achieve high results in life.

Disregard for general education by Washington would continue if there was no technical revolution. In 1981, industry captains complained to President Reagan about the level of education of American students who made the US an outsider in the technology race. "Graduates of public schools, - directors of companies said, - are unable to work in high-tech enterprises."

Reagan established a national commission for the evaluation of the educational system in the country. In 1983, it issued a report "Nation at Risk". The results shocked the country's leadership and the entire society.

It turned out that the level of education of public school graduates was falling with every year, the results of examinations and standardized tests worsened, and American children were left behind their peers from Japan and Europe in terms of knowledge.

But when it became clear that almost 23 million Americans were not able to write without errors or to solve a simple arithmetical task, did not understand a text, authorities experienced a shock. "The existing system of public schools does not meet the demands of society and time. If some hostile state tried to impose such an educational system on us, it could be perceived as an act of military aggression," - the report said.

This situation created the prerequisites for an intensive struggle for literacy which has lasted for several decades. It should be mentioned in essays about standardized testing and Common Core that this program became one of the most important steps to achieve a global goal. It was created on the initiative of the National Governors Association (NGA) to dramatically improve the preparation of students for college and career.

Common Core includes the basic teaching standards on English and math for schoolchildren. These are the basic principles, instructions for teachers and parents allowing them to know what exactly children are required to study in each class. Thus, all parties, including students, should be informed about the goals of education, what knowledge and skills they should have after graduation.

The regulations were adopted in 2010 in 45 states and in the District of Columbia, that is, almost all over America. This is a good example for a standardized testing controversy essay because, until now, Common Core system is not clear to everyone and causes many disagreements.

Why such programs as the Common Core are not always successful?

The greatest resistance is caused, in fact, not by Common Core itself but by its inevitable consequence - excessive overload of schoolchildren with tests. Indeed, according to a report based on facts collected in large cities, each boy and girl passes about 112 tests throughout the course of study (from preparatory to 12th grade), eight per year. Is this a lot or a little? Someone thinks that it is too much. Someone thinks otherwise. Opinions differ because no one can say how much tests are really needed.

In 2015, President Obama said that tests should not take more than 2% of training time for students of public schools. The former US Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, claimed that teachers know better than Washington how to measure academic performance. They also know that the real reason of the abundance of exams is that there are too many federal regulations that put the results of testing to the center of attention. Another decree from Washington will not solve the problem which is rooted in excessive federal regulation.

Lamar Alexander admitted that, at first, he wanted to seek the complete cancellation of these tests. But then he realized that the problem was not in them but in their consequences for the employees of the education system. The following example may be presented in essays on the negative effects of standardized testing: a third grade student has to pass tests on mathematics and reading; but since the results will affect teachers and school administrators, they come up with dozens of additional tests on their own initiative in order to prepare students for federal exams.

Hence the figure 112, from the beginning of studies to the 12th grade. It is an average indicator which may be higher. In Florida, for example, in the city of Fort Myers, school authorities came up with 160 tests. Only 17 of them were mandatory, the rest - local "creativity".

The skirmishes around Common Core do not stop. Rejection is observed in many states. In some of them, people strive to abandon this system at all.

It should be noted in essays about standardized testing learning disabilities that the idea of ​​a national standard of education caused a flurry of criticism not only because of the large number of tests. The first doubts were expressed by teachers and parents who read the questions and guidelines for preparation for exams. They had serious complaints regarding the quality and meaning of questions.

For example, a language test is based on questions from journalism and non-literary works. This means that most of the questions asked have nothing to do with the school curriculum on literature. "Such an approach should make a student not only answer a question, - the authors assert, - but also to think about it, to resort to own life experience." However, supporters forget to add that some elements of the classic American literature simply disappeared from the structure of the exam.

If you want to find good sources for a research paper against standardized testing, it is really worth looking for information with the tag "Common Core" in media. "Supporters of the Common Core test have not yet been able to provide any independent analysis proving the benefits of such a strange approach to exam questions, - a teacher from Oklahoma said, - 58 out of 60 reviews were written by specialists who are more or less connected with its creators. And the federal authorities base their opinions on the benefits and effectiveness of the test on these reviews."

But you may note in a standardized testing problem solution essay that incomprehensible, illiterate or completely stupid questions are only a small part of criticism. Definitions aimed to stimulate a negative attitude towards the Republicans were introduced in the text of questions compiled by Liberals. And there are plenty of other mistakes connected with the history and political system of the country as if the authors wished to ​​create a new American.

For example, 5th-grade pupils were informed that the president of the country cares about the honesty of laws. But often such statements do not correspond to the Constitution and reality in which the country lives.

The test did not provide questions on geometry, and multiplication was given in such a confusing form that math teachers only shrugged their shoulders. According to the interpretation of the test, to multiply 6 by 8, you need to multiply 5 by 8 and then 1 by 8. Supposedly, children understand this approach better. And there are many such examples.

It may be mentioned in a persuasive essay on standardized testing that opponents of the Common Core also cited political arguments of their rejection of the national standard. They argued that, in this way, the federal authorities gradually interfere in the state education system.

"The federal authorities lured the states into the test system with promises and money, - Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, said, - and then, when the states began to abandon this inconvenient system, they began to blackmail and threaten to cease granting federal subsidies for education."

Formally, Washington has no right to impose educational standards on the states. Therefore, local authorities had the right to refuse. A federal aid program "Race to the top" was created, which guaranteed generous grants for education to states that would participate in the Common Core program. And since the local authorities faced the lack of resources after the crisis, 45 states agreed to participate in this initiative. Later, some of them refused to conduct the tests and replaced them with previous local examinations that were considered more difficult by experts.

In a few years, the number of Americans dissatisfied with the test increased to 62%, and protests against the introduction of the Common Core were gaining momentum. On Facebook, the page NATIONAL OPT OUT & REFUSE THE TEST CAMPAIGN appeared urging Americans to take part in protest actions.

Write in a standardized testing argumentative research paper that such a refusal is dictated by one more aspect. It turned out that Common Core collects information about schoolchildren on 20 aspects (including health). The company that conducts the test was aimed to share all these personal data on small Americans with federal authorities which should "make recommendations on how to prepare for the test". That is, this company and the state can do whatever they want with the children's data, and citizens are not able to prevent it.

It's time to write your own essay!

We hope that the above information was helpful. Use it as a foundation for your academic paper writing. To understand all the features of the genre, it is recommended to study a qualitative standardized testing essay sample. Considering the works of experienced authors, pay attention to the structure (introduction, theses - arguments, conclusion), style of writing (prevailing role of personal impressions, reflections, comparison of different opinions, justification of own worldview in the framework of a prescribed topic).

Remember that your task is not just to list the achievements of other researchers and their authoritative opinions. An innovative view of the problem and consideration of nontrivial nuances have always been the main features of a good essay.

Despite the fact that such work has a simple structure and allows the broad creative freedom, this does not free you from responsibility for the perfect grammar and clear meaning of the text. Re-read an essay several times after writing. Divide cumbersome sentences into clearer short phrases, eliminate semantic and grammatical errors, format the paper in accordance with generally accepted standards and requirements of your educational institution.

If you take the assignment seriously and responsibly, the teacher will have no choice but to give a high score. Good luck!


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