The Problem of Standardized Testing

Muhammad Abdallah

A major problem in Nigerian schools today (and in many parts of the world) is the problem of ‘standardized testing’. Unfortunately, the general public seems to be unaware of this problem, or have simply chosen to neglect the issue. Some teachers are aware of this hitch, but are simply powerless in battling it.

The Glossary of Education Reform (2016) defines a standardized test as “any form of test that (1) requires all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions from common bank of questions, in the same way, and that (2) is scored in a ‘standard’ or consistent manner, which makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individual students or groups of students”. But do standardized tests actually measure the
true performance of students? Are these tests suitable for measuring if learning has thoroughly taken place in a child? And have these tests generally done more harm than good?

The general significance that has been attached to standardized test results over time has become more predominant in classrooms and the school, as a whole as a result of the pressure on teachers, students and educators from different levels of authority. This has been at the expense of valuable learning time and resources, and slowing down (sometimes completely hindering) development of other aspects of student learning. Some of these schools however are very much aware of this problem but can do almost nothing about it since, for quite a number of them, the continuity of the school largely depends on performances in these tests.

For me, two major problems of standardized tests affect schools in Nigeria as well as other
schools around the globe. First is that, due to the pressure that accompany such tests, there is great tendency for teachers to ‘teach to the test’, which result in tapering or constricting the curriculum. The tests also do not adequately assess 21st Century skills such as creativity, technological ability, problem solving, or critical thinking skills of students.

Overall, I feel these standardized tests like WAEC, NECO, JAMB, IGCSE, while having their benefits, have pushed us to forget/neglect if ‘the children truly learn’.

I am quite sure we can all relate to this problem.

Leave a Reply