Why do we have standardized testing?

Written by: Gavin Abandonato

    We recently finished SBA testing and the 3rd I-Ready diagnostic of the year. Most of us are drained, it’s been an exhausting testing season. And a lot of you may be wondering, why do we even have standardized testing in the first place? We are going to answer this question for you.

Ms. Collins, the principal of CPM, knows a lot about I-Ready and the SBA. When asked what the purpose of standardized testing was, she said “It’s a benchmark that’s a norm throughout the entire state of Washington and across the nation, in terms of a baseline to make sure students are reaching certain milestones throughout PK-12.” And when asked about why we have to have I-Ready and the SBA and not just have one, she said that “I-Ready is an adaptive test to see how students can grow over the course of the year, and the SBA happens periodically in grades 3, 7, 8, and 10. So it’s a benchmark in elementary, middle, and one year in high school, and it’s also a part of your graduation requirement.” 

She also informed us that the SBA is required by the state of Washington, and I-Ready is a requirement from the district. She also told me that I-Ready is very normal along the west coast and other states in the nation because of it’s user-friendliness. When asked if the results of the tests help teachers better meet our needs as students, she said “It depends on the content area, and yes it’s very informative in terms of how students can reach their stretch goal or how teachers can give measurable data on a students progress in terms of a fall, winter and spring so it has a more accurate reflection on how students are progressing over time.” She also said that there is a correlation in terms of being able to read and write efficiently, but the score you get on the SBA or I-Ready does not predict how your grades will be in the future.

We also interviewed Ms. Haugen, an 8th grade English teacher here at CPM. When asked if she thinks I-Ready is more helpful or unhelpful for students, she responded “ I think I-Ready is a good diagnostic tool to let students see where they’re at and see their growth, but in terms of a way to get kids excited about reading, no, I don’t think it’s a good tool. Not for all students.” 

When asked why we have to have I-Ready and the SBA, she said “Because both are required by the district. After zoom, after the school shut down because of covid, there was a concern that students were not learning, so districts across the country are trying to get all this data to see if this is true or not. I-Ready is one of those programs. The SBA is a state required test, and it compiles data to compare 25 states to see where their students are at in terms of learning.”

 We also asked her if she thinks testing either in the SBA or I-Ready predicts higher grades. “No, I do not. I think a test score shows how well a particular student did on a particular day. There are many factors and variables that go into a test score. A student could be having a bad day, a student could have test anxiety.” Another variable may be that some “students that are really good test takers, could not be really good students in the classroom, so they could struggle with organization and getting their assignments in. And vice versa, students who could not necessarily be good test takers do a really good job turning their assignments in and working really hard in advocating for themselves and their grades.” 

Another question we asked her was, does how well you do in I-Ready affect your grade for the year? She responded, “It’s just compiling data, although there are some teachers who tie a grade with it.” The last question we asked was does the results of the tests help teachers better meet our needs as students. “Yeah, I would say so,” she answered.  “As a diagnostic tool, it’s nice that all teachers are using the same tests so that there’s no questioning or some teachers are testing for one thing and some teachers are testing for another, it’s across the board. And it doesn’t tell teachers necessarily anything different that we would suspect, but it gives us a good baseline of where to look where our students are at and how to help them.”