When your child who attends elementary school tells you that they will have to take a standardized test soon, you likely cringe inwardly because you remember when you had to take them. You are likely wondering: why do elementary school students take standardized tests so often?
Elementary school students take standardized tests so often to evaluate their knowledge and ensure they’ve learned enough to move on to the next grade level. It also ensures that teachers are teaching their students everything in the curriculum effectively and gives them class progression feedback.
More information about the necessity of standardized tests and whether or not they are changing is below.
Are Standardized Tests Necessary for Elementary Schoolers?
Standardized tests are necessary for elementary school students to take, even though sometimes they seem more like a hassle than a help. Standardized tests ensure that before students move on to the next grade, they have the knowledge they need to make it through the year.
Standardized tests for elementary school students are typically centered around their writing, reading, and math skills, which are extremely important skills that they will build on during the next grade year. If they don’t have skills to build on, they will struggle to understand the curriculum and feel discouraged. (Source)
However, most elementary school students that take the standardized tests that we think of are between third and fifth grade, although they will continue to take standardized tests after leaving elementary school. This is because of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). (Source)
Standardized tests are important for elementary school students to take because it ensures that teachers are teaching them effectively. If test scores are lower, the teachers aren’t doing their jobs well, which is a problem. These tests also help administrators find places in the curriculum where their teachers and students can improve. If they know where they can improve, they can put teachers through training and focus funding on things that will help their students learn.
However, the schools that don’t have as much funding as other schools are then at a disadvantage. They are pressured to make sure their students are ready to take the test rather than teach the curriculum, which doesn’t help students learn.
Standardized tests also help find students that are ahead of their peers in their understanding of the curriculum so they can skip a year or be put in an advanced program. This is extremely helpful to those students because they won’t be as bored in class and can learn at their advanced pace. (Source)
How Many Standardized Tests Do Elementary School Students Take?
Elementary school students take between 8-10 standardized tests every year. That seems like a lot of tests, and realistically it is, but most of those tests are small and involve a relatively low amount of stress for the students. Some standardized tests given at the beginning of the school year are simply given so administrators can evaluate how much students know at the time and what they learn by the end of the year. They are often more stressful for the teachers.
However, elementary school students always know when a standardized test will be held so they can be prepared. Teachers typically ensure that elementary school students are told about standardized tests with enough time to properly prepare and study.
Are Standardized Tests Changing?
Standardized tests are changing, especially for elementary school students. As more research is done, times change, and knowledge about how best to evaluate a student’s knowledge and learning increases. In the past, standardized tests are in a multiple-choice format. However, research has found that many students find that test format to be extremely stressful and hard to complete, so most standardized tests nowadays only have small multiple-choice sections.
Two states have significantly changed their standardized tests in recent years: Georgia and Louisiana. Georgia has recently developed tests that ensure that no matter how much a student knows or their specific grade level, the test suits their knowledge. These tests are still able to determine when students are behind in their learning so they can get the extra help that they need. However, these tests have not helped teachers find out how far behind their students are, so many teachers in Georgia don’t like these tests. (Source)
In Louisiana, teachers, administrators, and experts are giving elementary school students even more tests, but they are easier and less stressful for the students. The purpose of these tests is to support the students’ learning and education, not hinder it or stress them out more. Because these tests are given so often, students are not given much of a chance to forget what they have learned, so they spend less time reviewing and being frustrated while taking the test because they know they learned what is on the test, but they don’t remember how to figure out the problem.
These tests also give teachers a better idea of what they need to go into more depth on, review, and what they can move on from, which teachers appreciate. However, these tests are currently optional, so only a few schools are taking these tests. Sometimes, students also have to take periodic standardized tests to their results can be sent to the state and administrators. Although, because all of the student’s test scores are added together to create one score, that doesn’t happen very often, even though these small tests are not yet tested and approved for nationwide use.
Overall, standardized tests are extremely important, even for young elementary school students. While it may seem like these tests put children through more stress than they are worth, the stress is worth it in the end. Teachers need these tests so they can ensure all of their students are where they need to be in their understanding of the curriculum.
After children leave elementary school, they have to take even more tests that are extremely important for their future, especially if they want to eventually go to college. It is important that students learn how to take standardized tests early on in life, which is one of the reasons why they start taking these tests so young.