Standardized Testing in the United States

My name is ……………………, a ………………year student at……………………. currently pursuing a degree in……………… I am a legal immigrant of Indian descent who moved to the United States of America and is residing in the southern state of Texas. During the time I immigrated to the United States of America, I had to repeat my 6th grade due to the state test; a standardized test required for measuring academic achievement. The repeat of my 6th grade made me realize that most of the studies in my 9/10th class were things that I had already acquired knowledge of while at my 6th grade in India. In the United States, 1 out of 4 children are immigrants, the schools and specifically, the standardized test is ill-equipped to meet the needs of immigrants. Graded test emphasizes complete learning in English, therefore, neglecting the native language of the immigrants, forcing them to learn a second language. Another issue that I faced was the cultural straddling, where some of the immigrants have to undergo as they fit in.[1]

While racial segregation was addressed in the 1954 case of Brown vs Board of Education, bicultural differences were not addressed as the standardized test is solemnly based on the United States.[2]

Therefore, immigrants get little to no cross-cultural education whether ethnic, racial, age, geographic or other boundaries.

A background of standardized testing is traced back to Imperial China. It was used in a rudimentary form to determine an applicant's eligibility for a position in the ruling class government. They were tested for their knowledge of Confucian philosophy and poetry. In the Western world, examiners used essays as derived from ancient Greeks' Socratic Method. However, this changed during the industrial revolution in the early 1800s when children were relieved from farms and taken to school.[3] From here, standardized examination emerged as a way of testing a large number of students. In the 20th century, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test, currently referred to as the IQ Test; was developed by French Psychologist Alfred Binet. During the First World War (1914 to 1918), the Army Mental Test was used by the Military in the recruitment of new soldiers to fight in the war. In 1936, a system of automatic test scanner was developed; a basic computer scanner known as IBM 805. Electrical currents were used for the detection of bubbled-in-answers. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SATs), was introduced by the College Board in 1926. They were previously known as the College Entrance Examination Board, with 351 questions covering areas of vocabulary, analogies and math proficiency.[4] This tests lasted for 90 minutes. By the Second World War, SATs were accepted by universities and eventually became a rite of passage for college-bound high school seniors. In 1959, a professor at the University of Lowa developed the American College Testing, an alternative to the SAT. It aimed to guide students towards a course by testing them on their interests. While the SATs were geared more towards the testing of logic, ACT-tested the accumulated knowledge. In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act introduced the state-mandated standardized testing as a means of assessing school performance testing each year of grade school.

The classical test theory is a theory within psychometric testing used to recognize and develop the reliability of psychological tests and assessments measures through the performance of an individual taking a test and levels of the questions or tasks in the test.[5] The individual scores and errors in the test indicate the total score without the mistakes in the analysis that the individual makes in the process of testing. The Item Response Theory (IRT) is also another theory used in the concept of standardized testing. It is also known as the latent trait model. It refers to a group of mathematical models that attempt to explain the relationship between latent traits and their manifestation. It is a way to analyze responses to test aimed at improving measurement accuracy and reliability.[6]

The item response theory is based on a person's performance and how it relates to the questions on the test. It tries to establish underlying traits that account for a person's performance in a trial.

In order to solve the issues presented by the current standardized testing and reinvent education testing in America, I therefore recommend the following changes:

1. Develop an assessment test to be able to determine the understanding of a student's ability in their level of learning. It will be able to help students who are transferring from other schools and specific legal immigrants like me who were disadvantaged by the state test and in turn had to repeat.[7] This development will also help address the difference in abilities of the person who has knowledge and skill in subjects that are a grade ahead of them, as the state test does not capture the general understanding on an immigrant to the new schools, as well as their levels of knowledge in certain grades.

2. The development of standardized testing to include other languages alternative to English to be able to cater to the racial difference. This is because there are issues of racial prejudice when someone's native language cannot be used to communicate during their stay in the United States of America.

3. Incorporation of other bicultural identities in the education curriculum and turn testing in the standardized tests for cultural straddling.[8]

It will ensure that legal immigrants understand the various cultural identities that they interact with and make them more receptive towards other bicultural identities.

4. Development of legislation that set the standards for a state test to change the standardized test measure of ability and not an achievement as the founder of the assessment test had previously intended when he developed assessment examinations (Edward, 2006). The legislation is most important in giving a unifying effect to the management of assessment in standardized testing by the state.

I would like to suggest a review of the legislation on the standardized testing (the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act) that provides major standardized testing. A review of this legislation will significantly impact education by creating adequate solutions to the ineffective nature of standardized testing. As an Indian who legally immigrated to the United States of America, I would also like to reiterate my status as a legal immigrant and my lack of support for illegal immigrants. In addition, the inclusion of teachers with knowledge in the diverse cultures and languages will also improve the learning and eventual standardized testing for immigrants for an active learning process.


Edwards, N. T. "The historical and social foundations of standardized testing: In search of a balance between learning and evaluation." Shiken: JALT Testing and Evaluation SIG Newsletter 10, no. 1 (2006), 8-16.

Gallagher, C. J. "Reconciling a tradition of testing with a new learning paradigm." Educational Psychology Review 15, no. 1 (2003), 83-99.

Grodsky, Eric, John R. Warren, and Erika Felts. "Testing and Social Stratification in American Education." Annual Review of Sociology 34, no. 1 (2008), 385-404. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134711.

Miller, M.D. D. "Classical Test Theory Reliability." International Encyclopedia of Education, 2010, 27-30. doi:10.1016/b978-0-08-044894-7.00235-9.

Rogosa, David Roth. Accuracy of Year-1, Year-2 Comparisons Using Individual Percentile Rank Scores: Classical Test Theory Calculations. Los Angeles, CA: Center for the Study of Evaluation, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, Graduate School of Education " Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 2000.


Eric Grodsky, John R. Warren, and Erika Felts, "Testing and Social Stratification in American Education," Annual Review of Sociology 34, no. 1 (2008):


C. J. Gallagher, "Reconciling a tradition of testing with a new learning paradigm," Educational Psychology Review 15, no. 1 (2003)


N. T. Edwards, "The historical and social foundations of standardized testing: In search of a balance between learning and evaluation," Shiken: JALT Testing and Evaluation SIG Newsletter 10, no. 1 (2006):




M.D. D. Miller, "Classical Test Theory Reliability," International Encyclopedia of Education, 2010,




C. J. Gallagher, "Reconciling a tradition of testing with a new learning paradigm," Educational Psychology Review 15, no. 1 (2003)


M.D. D. Miller, "Classical Test Theory Reliability," International Encyclopedia of Education, 2010

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