Traditional paper-based standardized tests have haunted all of us as students and continue to haunt students in schools everywhere. There need to be better testing solutions, but putting the clear environmental worries aside for a minute, there are other tangible, negative effects that this form of testing can have on student experiences and results.
From testing anxiety to complacency in an inherently racist education system, we would dare to say that traditional forms of testing aren’t only far from the best option, they’re outdated. The solution? Adaptive testing (https://adaptivex.io/what-is-adaptive-testing/) is a much better and more comprehensive means of evaluation that combats everything from testing anxiety to implicit white supremacy in education. Adaptive testing doesn’t only benefit the evaluation process, it brings some very real benefits to the student side of testing, as well. Let’s take a look at a few.
A lot of students suffer from testing anxiety, and although this anxiety might pop up in any testing setting, adaptive testing helps to minimize these issues. Anxiety during testing can come from all sorts of sources, but in many cases, it has to do with the student looking over the questions and thinking or knowing that they aren’t going to be able to answer some or any of them.
Whether those thoughts are accurate or not, they have a very real effect on the process and on the results. Students can begin to doubt themselves, take too long trying to convince themselves that they know the answer, and ultimately not perform as well even if they had the knowledge to get a good score in principle.
Pulling from a large test bank based on test taker answers, looking ahead, and getting nervous isn’t possible with adaptive testing, and since the test tailors itself to the students’ strengths and weaknesses, questions won’t be too difficult and end up discouraging students or making them nervous. This allows students to focus on one problem at a time, and to do so in a manner that curbs anxiety as much as possible.
Intimately linked to the previous benefit, adaptive testing provides better evaluations for students. Discouragement is a big challenge when it comes to accurate evaluations—in a pre established set of questions, if there’s a string of difficult questions that a student cannot answer, they can become discouraged and start to take the remainder of the test less seriously. This can lead to them answering questions incorrectly even when, with a level head, they would have written down the correct answers.
By presenting the student with questions appropriate to their level of performance, adaptive testing allows for a better gauge of the students’ mastery of the subject. The two options should not be that a student either knows everything or nothing, which is exactly the message that traditional testing methods run the risk of sending.
Unfair performance from unfair testing doesn’t just come from tests tailored to students that have full mastery on the subject. A big part of this also comes from the implicit, systemic racism in the education system.
Our curricula and our textbooks are whitewashed, but the students in our classrooms are anything but. Students come from all sorts of diverse backgrounds with diverse cultures and practices. Whitewashed education presented in white vocabulary and perspectives will always favor one specific demographic of student. In the same fashion, a student may not perform well on a test not because they didn’t have the mastery, but because the test was made with someone else in mind. Not everyone has practiced European vocabulary their entire life—why should that mean that they don’t know physics?
Adaptive testing can be made to be culturally responsive, specifically to avoid these problems. Evaluations should test student knowledge, not their demographic. Diverse test banks with appropriate evaluation criteria can help do just this.
Learn more how AdaptiveX can help your organization understand the benefit of testing solutions. Our award-winning software will allow you to easily administer adaptive testing – and schedule a demo here.