Despite the controversy that has arisen around the use of standardized tests in some areas, there are some pros of standardized tests that should be considered by students, parents, and educators. These tests often provide a level field in which prejudices and problems found in tests can be more easily eliminated, allowing test scores in different areas to be more accurately compared and analyzed. Since the tests can remain the same from year to year, or vary based on carefully constructed methods, they can also be efficiently used to analyze development and growth by students who take the same test from one year to the next.
Standardized tests are types of tests created and issued by a company or agency, rather than by instructors in a classroom. These tests are sometimes criticized due to their standardized nature since they may not allow for differences between test-takers and can be relied upon too heavily by administrators. There are some pros of standardized tests, however, that can provide certain advantages for both test-takers and educators.
One of the most noteworthy pros of standardized tests is that they can be designed to more effectively eliminate potential prejudice within the test itself. Prejudice in a test typically comes from test questions that are designed in a way that makes the question difficult to understand for some testers. While this is often attributed to differences in culture or social backgrounds, even geographical differences can introduce prejudice into test questions. One of the pros of standardized tests is that a great deal of time and research can go into crafting each test question, allowing the designers of the test to eliminate questions that may indicate prejudice in pre-testing research.
Other pros of standardized tests include the ability for the test designers to more easily notice, track, and eliminate problems in test questions based on performance. If the developers of a test notice that a particular question is missed repeatedly while they are developing and testing the questions, they can eliminate or alter the question based on this research. A teacher in a classroom may never realize that a question is phrased in a way that makes it confusing for students, and simply assume that the majority of students missed a question due to the complexity of the question or a lack of preparation.
Standardized tests can also be more effectively used to track progress of students over multiple semesters and years. Since the same tests can be given to students, even as they transfer schools or advance to the next grade, their results can still be compared from one year to the next. While this is one of the most practical and useful pros of standardized tests, these tests are not always used in this way and such tracking may not be maintained by administrators.