With the relatively recent controversy regarding standardized testing, many educators and officials alike have devoted time to considering alternatives. Because of the prominence of standardized testing, finding a suitable replacement that still allows educators to assess their students and education system, as well as determine how much government funding schools are allotted, has not been easy.
However, there are a number of potential alternatives that could feasibly replace or supplement the current system. Listed below are a few assessment options.
Social & Emotional Skills Assessment
While it is largely believed that core subjects like math, science, writing, and reading are among the most important factors to consider when conducting an assessment, other personal factors such as emotional intelligence, learning style, and self-esteem play into students’ skills and interests. Assessing things like engagement, well-being, and hope can help share insight into the core values of the students as well as their emotional stability. Understanding how things like social status, learning disorders, and emotional states can affect a students’ ability to acclimate to the school environment and apply new knowledge is crucial for properly and accurately assessing the students’ educational capabilities.
As the name suggests, stealth assessments use software that tracks the students’ progress without them even realizing it. This option reduces any potential test anxiety, and it also allows instructors to monitor and assess the performance of students over time, which can help tailor educational programs to better address areas students have a difficult time understanding and retaining. The data collected through this method can still be compared on a national scale, too, which is one of the most commonly cited defenses of standardized testing.
With the ever-increasing popularity of video games, there are also programs in development that would channel the same kind of personalization and learning curve that video games possess. Using video games as a means of assessment can also limit the stress that accompanies formal, lengthy paper tests.
There are some who believe that a standardized test is not suitable for gauging the intellectual and critical thinking prowess of all students. Directly assessing students’ work might be a better option. Having students write papers, conduct science experiments, solve math problems, and answer questions from teachers (a section comparable to how graduate students must defense their theses) is largely what comprises the performance assessment. Using the actual work as a measurement of the students’ capacities to learn, retain, and apply information could be a more effective means of assessing individual student ability.
The only potential downside is this: using only performance-based assessments could lead to issues in national comparisons. Because these assessments would be so individualized, accurately comparing them would be made much more difficult than with standardized tests.
The reigning solution is a combination of the various kinds of assessments. Rather than assess students’ capabilities and intellect based on a single test, using multiple kinds of tests that do not adhere to a standardized model can help provide an inclusive, diverse assessment of capabilities from academic proficiency to emotional intelligence.
The process of replacing or supplementing the existing structure is no easy task, but addressing the issues of the current system and proposing alternative solutions is a great way to equalize the methods of aptitude assessment.