Assessment results on this particular population shape educators attitudes about the skills and abilities of this subset of students, and hence may not capture the reality of all the students know or are capable of. Moreover, this inherent failing in attempting to capture the progress of Early Language Learners may mean that they may not have access to opportunities to higher education, because standardized tests are not measuring the actual knowledge of these students (Lachat).
Young Children and Standardized Testing
Standardized testing in young children focuses on gathering information in three program areas: information sharing and communication with parents, identification of special needs, and program evaluation and accountability (Hills). Problems, however, in testing young children are evident in the concerns that young children are easily distracted, that their social and emotional development is not mature, and that the children have no personal stake in being assessed. The educator faces a very tough issue when trying to capture relevant and meaningful information when faced with these real obstacles. A more realistic and kinder approach to gather information on this population group, is performance based, developmentally-appropriate testing. This type of testing involves periodic assessment, over time, in order to obtain meaningful data. Moreover, this type of approach removes the child from an artificial situation that is more geared to satisfy the needs of the educators and policy makers than the children in question (Bredekamp).
In this paper, a review and history of standardized testing has been offered. From the concepts early beginnings with the ancient Greeks and Chinese, to proto-testing in early America, and on up to the modern day education system in the United States, we can see that standardized testing has become an acceptable means test of tracking progress of programs in order to measure accountability of students and programs themselves. However, inherent failings in standardized testing are elucidated in two groups: English Language Learners and Young Children. This paper has discussed the problems with administering standardized tests to ELL groups, that being that language and cultural barriers may cause erroneous data to be gathered on this population. In addition, standardized testing for the population of young children has been shown to be problematic due to emotional and developmental immaturities of this group. Moreover, standardized testing of this age group would seem to be centered on adult-centered needs that fail to fully take into account the needs of the children. A final comment posited in this paper, is that standardized testing is an acceptable means test of accountability for tracking progress of some demographic groups, but will fail and underserve those demographic groups that do not fall into the dominant.