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What's Wrong With Standardized Tests?
From the National Center for Fair and Open Testing

Are standardized tests fair and helpful evaluation tools?

Not really. Standardized tests are tests on which all students answer the same questions, usually in multiple-choice format, and each question has only one correct answer. They reward the ability to quickly answer superficial questions that do not require real thought. They do not measure the ability to think or create in any field. Their use encourages a narrowed curriculum, outdated methods of instruction, and harmful practices such as retention in grade and tracking. They also assume all test-takers have been exposed to a white, middle-class background. [read on]

FairTest finds that over 755 four-year colleges do not use the SAT I or ACT to admit substantial numbers of bachelor degree applicants: Schools That Do Not Use SAT or ACT Scores for Admitting Substantial Numbers of Students Into Bachelor Degree Programs.


Tests You May Encounter

Test Name & Description
Age or Grade
Kind of Test/How Administered
Norm referenced
Criterion referenced
At Home
American College Test ACT High School Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X    
Advanced Placement Test AP High School Standardized (Academic, or proficiency)
Individual or Group
California Achievement Test, 5th edition CAT-5 various elementary grades & high School Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X   X
Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills CTBS various elementary grades Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X    
Cognitive Abilities Test Cogat various elementary grades Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X    
General Educational Development Test GED High School  Standardized (Academic, or proficiency)     X   
Geselle Geselle age-appropriate developmental
Developmental test X    
Iowa Test of Basic Skills ITBS various elementary grades Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X    
Metropolitan Achievement Test MAT various elementary grades & High School Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X   X
Otis-Lennon School Ability Test OLSAT Individual Individual Intelligence Test X    
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test PSAT sophmore & Junior High school Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X    
Scholastic Aptitude Test / II SAT / SAT-II Junior High school Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X    
Scholastic Aptitude Test SAT various elementary grades Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X    
Slosson Intelligence Test SIT various elementary grades Individual Intelligence Test X    
Stanford-Binet SB-IV various elementary grades Individual Intelligence Test X    
TerraNova TerraNova various elementary grades Group Standardized (Academic, or proficiency) test X    
Wechsler Intelligence Scale WISC ages 6-17 Individual Intelligence Test X    
Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement WJ Preschool through college level, Individual achievement test X    

(Typical) Elementary & Middle School Level Tests
You can administer the CAT, MAT and CTBS at home.

California Achievement Test (CAT), Fifth Edition, published in 1992 by CTB/McGraw-Hill. Grades K-12. K is a pre-instructional test in reading and mathematics. 1-12 covers: Word Analysis, Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, Language Mechanics and Expression,Spelling, Study Skills Math Computation, Math Concepts, Application Word Analysis, Science and Social Studies.

Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) tests all academic areas including Reading, Language Arts, Spelling, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Reference Skills.

Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT), Seventh Edition, published in 1993 by Psychological Corporation. The MAT is a less time consuming test than CAT. Grades 1-12. MAT covers: Vocabulary, Word Recognition, Reading Comprehension, Math Concepts, Math Problem Solving and Computation, Language, Science, and Social Studies.
The TerraNova is a test designed to measure achievement in the basic skills. Subject areas measured are Reading/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Word Analysis, Vocabulary, Language Mechanics Mathematics Computation, and Spelling.

(Typical) High School Level Tests
We have some great resources on our homeschooling teens pages about upper school testing resources and preparing for college.

This test cannot be administered at home. It is administered at the High Schools. The PSAT/NMSQT gives you first hand practice for the SAT. The PSAT/NMSQT measures critical reading, math problem-solving, and writing skills.

The SAT- The SAT measures verbal, math reasoning and writing abilities. These are abilities develop over time through the work you do in school and on your own. SAT scores can help and colleges better understand how you compare with other students preparing for college.
SAT Subject Tests (AP) - You can take Subject Tests to show colleges your mastery of specific subjects, like English, History and Social Studies, math, science, and language. Colleges can use your Subject Test scores to make admission decisions, help determine how well prepared you are for college programs, place you in freshman or higher-level course work, advise you on course selection. Subject tests fall into five general subject areas each test for more information: English (Literature, Writing), History (U.S. History, World History), Mathematics, Science (Biology E/M, Chemistry, Physics)
The ACT - American College Test - Multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. Optional writing test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.
GED - General Educational Development Test
The GED is an assessment of skills and knowledge comparable to those of a high school graduate. It is not to be considered as a substitute for completing high school and earning a diploma. It is an alternative for those who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to finish high school. The GED test is a series of five tests covering writing, science, math, literature and the arts, and social studies. The tests require the test taker to apply reading, math, language and critical thinking skills. Tests are taken one at a time and in any order desired.

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