Authentic testing offers a better way to gauge learning

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A debate in today’s education world is whether we should continue utilizing standardized testing.

In an introduction to communications course, most college students will hear a persuasive speech about such a topic.

The speaker will talk about the discriminatory aspects of the ACT, or how standardized tests are an unfair assessment for students who have test anxiety.

However, most people fail to offer an alternative to standardized testing, such as authentic testing.

Authentic testing is when, rather than regurgitating memorized knowledge in a multiple-choice question format, students must apply their knowledge through activities, such as designing an experiment.

This new way of testing measures a student’s ability to utilize their knowledge rather than just memorizing facts. Authentic tests show teachers how well students understand the knowledge they have learned.

Studies have shown that when static, active and interactive testing are used, interactive testing is the best way to measure how well students apply the knowledge they learn.

Standardized tests only require a student to recognize or recall information. Authentic tests require a student to analyze, synthesize and apply what they have learned.

Through this process, students create new meaning and understanding. Authentic tests focus on higher-level thinking and real-world situations, which allow students to learn in a way that will help them in their day-to-day lives.

There are criticisms for authentic testing due to its subjective nature. Teachers do not use traditional rubrics. Therefore, grades can lack reliability.

But many forget that grades are restricting. Too often students strive for the “A” by memorizing material instead of taking the time to deeply understand it

. Authentic testing frees students from the grading scale and gives them the opportunity to interact with the material and push themselves.

Authentic testing is the future of assessments in education, and teachers should use it more often.

The education system must free teachers and allow them to push past their teach to the test mentality.

It is more important for students to truly learn than to just focus on passing a test and getting the next “A.”

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