t Yes Our educational system claims to be
about high expectations for all, regardless of ability.
It says that, with the right teaching and some effort
from the student, a low-achieving student can learn
and improve. And yet our standardized testing system is designed to focus only on a student’s ability.
If it’s time and effort that you standardize, then you
guarantee that on any given date the amount each
student learns will differ according to his or her ability.
Consider that if you want to standardize an outcome—
what it is you want them to learn—then time and
effort must become variables in the system, so that
ability ceases to be as important.
We have the capacity to do
this easily right now by using technology to allow us to
refocus where, what, and how
we standardize. In fact, we
don’t even need the technology. In 1993, following my
first year of teaching university freshman English, I realized that I wasn’t doing my
students much good. After
New technologies are rapidly trans-
forming the way we evaluate student learning.
Emerging digital tools and improved assessment
strategies are having an impressive impact in
the classroom. This is not because testing is the
most important aspect of education. Rather, as-
sessment is meant to guide instruction. Testing
should not consume valuable time that could be
spent instead on what is infinitely more impor-
tant: learning and teaching.
Modern advances in related tools allow teach-
ers and test proctors to more efficiently (and
sometimes more effectively) evaluate students.
Ideally, this means teachers will waste less time
creating tests, and students
will waste less time taking
them. However, this will not
render standardized testing
obsolete. If anything, stan-
dardized testing practices
will improve just enough
that our dependence on
them will grow.
Maybe we will make standardized testing, regardless