What do standardised tests offer that teacher assessment can't?
The short answer to this question is the best of standardised tests can offer increased objectivity, validity and reliability. Yet, while standardised assessments can provide higher quality assessments than teacher assessments, they are limited in the scope of what they can assess, they are often time-consuming, and often come with extra costs. Moreover, teachers often find it difficult to interpret and make use of the data they receive from the assessments.
Assuming that the data are readily interpretable, the results of many standardised assessments will tally with teachers’ assessments. From time to time, however, they flag-up anomalous results which deserve a second look; from the point of view of identifying those children whose needs are often hard to spot, they offer a useful tool to schools, and their use should be considered as part of an overall approach to assessment. Standardised tests can operate as something of a ‘health check’ test: using their potential for greater objectivity and reliability can help triangulate a view of student achievement.