To know how students do in school is perhaps the most important function of a test. Other than assessing how students have progressed, it also tells the teachers how effective the instructions are. Testing, however, isn’t as simple as that. Throughout the years, testing has been used to identify people who can be admitted into the best universities. These tests also serve as a report card for assessing the educational standard of countries. It has been the basis of continuous education reforms intended to improve the achievement of students.
Norm referenced tests (NRT) are exams that evaluate or estimate how well someone performs compared to other members of the population. It tells whether a student performs better or worse than others who took the same test. Tests of these types are created and administered to students for comparison of performance. After the papers were rated numerically, students’ raw scores were statistically analyzed to compute for means. After this, performance levels or numerical grades are assigned. It is an effective way in identifying the differences between the class members’ performance, which might be useful in the diagnosis of learning difficulties or disability. Different from criterion referenced tests (CRT), NRT’s, measure students as compared with their fellow class members, making it easier for the teacher to track the direction of the lessons, and the effectiveness of strategies in teaching them. CRT’s track the student knowledge and NRT’s focus on where lessons can be improved.
The degree of attention state tests gets lesser attention than those given to classroom-based tests. Being the most frequent test taken by students, it entails major consequences that define how students are placed in the statistics of performance and achievement. Though sometimes misunderstood, tests in the classroom are main contributors of one’s grade point average, which is a very important figure in securing a slot for a university one wishes to attend.
Tests are given to get direct insights on student’s level of learning and mastery. One of the most preferred way of grading and ordering students rating is the NRT. The following are the five known advantages of using NRTs in grading students:
When the norms or point of comparisons among class members is established, it is easier for the teacher to place students along the rank of class members who either achieve or fall out of the academic trend. Since it is quite impossible to apply one general rule for all students, classroom-based tests directly and closely exhibit what should be done to remedy students’ weakness. Equally important, the trend of class members performance can tell the teachers whether strategies employed to deliver the curriculum has been fully helpful or challenging. In addition to that, remediation and enrichment activities can be quickly decided for both the slow and fast learners.
Research has shown that exams designed and administered in the classroom are more motivating for students. This is because they tend to have a direct effect on their grades. Despite the annual state exams schools are to administer to the students, exams taken in the classrooms are taken more seriously as they are determinants of the general weighted average (GWA), which is essential in gaining college admission. Equally important, test results that help teachers diagnose success and challenges in learning can be obtained quicker than standardized tests that take time to get analyzed and returned to the teacher. Whatever trend is given by tests can be remedied by the teacher right away. Also, classroom based NRTs are cheaper to prepare, making it possible for teachers to design pretest and posttests.
If there is something great about classroom-based tests, it is their capacity to scaffold learning. Teacher made assessments are usually based on the fact that classroom lessons are constructed based on the continuum of skills and knowledge. They normally start with easier topics and gradually increase in complexity as the subject matter demands. This step by step testing bridges the topics and serves as a cue for the ones that are quite demanding cognitively. Exposures like these are known to build students ability to learn topics in increasing difficulty. Equally important, exams that do not tend to push students too hard provide motivations as they are easily achieved and aligned with what the students can do at a given period. Alexandra Usher and Nancy Kober, authors of “Student Motivation—An Overlooked Piece of School Reform,” claim that assessments should be motivating rather than anxiety-inducing.