What is Standardized Testing? - Definition & Types

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  • 0:01 What Are Standardized Tests?
  • 1:13 Supporters
  • 1:50 Opponents
  • 2:19 Types of Tests
  • 5:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Marquis Grant
This lesson highlights the concept of standardized testing. We will also discuss the various types of standardized tests as well as learn some limitations that come with this kind of testing.

What Are Standardized Tests?

Standardized tests are often referred to as assessments. An assessment is generally defined as the collection and analysis of information about one or more students. When tests are standardized, this means that a particular group of students will take the same test that will be scored and analyzed the same way. The Score result for each student is then compared to the rest of the group to see how well the students performed.

The federal law known as No Child Left Behind, or NCLB, was created so that schools were held accountable for what students learned throughout the school year. States were required to set goals and objectives for students starting in grade three and, at the end of the year, assess whether students met the required goals and objectives. These standardized, or high stakes, tests not only provide schools, districts, and states with information about student achievement (or lack of), the tests can also determine whether or not students are promoted to the next grade level. Additionally, teachers and/or schools with high numbers of students who do not perform well on the end-of-year tests could face negative consequences as a result.


Standardized tests differ from teacher-made tests because they are not specific to any lesson or activity from the classroom. Instead, standardized tests provide more of a general overview of what students should know at a particular grade level. Those in favor of standardized tests argue that such testing holds teachers more accountable for what students should know and, when used with other assessments, should give a pretty accurate picture of student achievement. Since these types of tests are created by people who are not a part of the classroom setting, the results are considered more reliable in measuring student performance.

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