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Creative Alternatives to Standardized Test Taking

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Taking tests has long been regarded as the most accurate and effective way of measuring students' academic achievements in schools and colleges. Most students know only too well how time consuming the process of studying can be, and how stressful the testing can be, whether faced with an essay, multiple choice questions or true or false questions.

The Costs of Standardized Test Taking

In addition to the anxiety caused by taking tests, the system is also costlier than you might think. Up to 15 percent of the time allocated to the school year is spent taking assessments or preparing for them, and teachers can spend up to 26 percent of their time preparing for assessments. The actual testing process typically takes between 20 and 25 hours each year, and administering the entire testing system costs an estimated $1.7 billion. Not surprisingly, over 80 percent of teachers suggest that the testing system takes up too much of their students' time.

Other Drawbacks

But it isn't just the cost in time and money that leads many in the education field to believe there can be a better testing system. Taking standardized tests don't really provide a full and accurate picture of a student's ability, the overall progress they have made during the year, or the ability of the teacher. Many test results are simply inaccurate, as in many cases the scores needed to pass the test have been lowered to achieve more consistency. Different tests often have different and confusing goals, and typically students, parents and teachers don't get the results of tests administered by the state until the next school year. And the system seems almost designed to cause anxiety, stress and late nights spent studying.

Creative Solutions to Standardized Testing

Game Based Assessments

Although the standardized testing system is seen as being objective and fair, educators are increasingly advocating other testing methods in an attempt to increase the scope of what is being tested, and to make learning more fun. Improved or alternative testing methods are becoming a more viable option in the classroom, thanks to advances in technology and increased research into the subject. About 97 percent of 12 to 18 year olds routinely play games, making game based assessments an obvious direction in which to go. Being assessed while playing games can measure teamwork, stamina and creativity, and allow teachers to get a more complete picture of the solving and learning process. And students don't need to interrupt their learning to be tested, when participating in game based assessments.

Portfolio Based Assessments

Students are more likely to have a positive attitude towards their classes and use different learning strategies when portfolio based assessments are implemented. The assessments also mean that a student's progress, effort and improvement are all tracked and measured over a longer period of time, allowing for a more accurate picture of overall performance. And a portfolio based assessment gives a student the opportunity to focus on a topic that interests them, research and discuss their work, and then present it.

Test anxiety, low scores and underfunded schools could well be a thing of the past, as more educators realize the potential of these alternate testing methods.

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