The Impact and Improvement of School Testing Programs

By Warren G. Findley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
The Impact of Testing on School Organization

WALTER W. COOK and THEODORE CLYMER

When a new instrument becomes available in any field, its usefulness is estimated in terms of its power to facilitate the achievement of currently accepted objectives within the prevailing form of organization and procedures. The fact that the results of the new instrument constantly point to the need for revising objectives and for changing procedures and organization usually goes unheeded for some time. The influence of standardized tests in and on the schools has followed this pattern.

Objective tests were first used simply as examinations had always been used: to determine achievement as a basis of promotion, acceleration, or assignment to sections and to evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher or the quality of a school system. In more recent years, measurement has played a much more fundamental role in the education process--for the results of testing provided the data for a re-examination of the basic assumptions of prevailing school organizational patterns, objectives, and procedures.

Historically, school reform has invariably proceeded from attempts to make the students fit the system. When all else fails, the system is sometimes adjusted to the characteristics of the children. Our concern is that many school organizational procedures have sustained themselves long after their lack of worth was clearly demonstrated. School reform should be directed at how to meet the needs of individual pupils in heterogeneous groups, not toward the goal of providing homogeneous groups. Studies of trait differences indicate that even the individual child is not "homogeneous."

Soon after their introduction, standardized tests began to challenge many tenets of the concept of school organization by grades. Recommendations which relate to organization and which are sup-

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