Students in K-12 education take a variety of tests during their educational journeys. Usually, the tests measure a student's progress in a particular area or at the end of a course. Other tests may measure a student's intelligence, or they may measure whether a student is more successful in one area than another.
Achievement tests measure an acquired skill or knowledge. They differ from aptitude tests, which measure natural talents and abilities. Achievement tests, also called standardized tests, measure student learning, usually once a year. The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act means all states must test student progress yearly in reading and mathematics. Achievement tests may be used to diagnose student strengths and weaknesses as well. While achievement tests are able to measure a student's progress at the end of the year, critics such as the Rand Corp. argue that achievement tests do not measure higher order thinking skills, problem solving and teamwork.
Types of Achievement Tests
There are state standardized achievement tests and national achievement tests. Examples of state standardized achievement tests are the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, Georgia's Criterion Referenced Competency Tests and the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. Many states also give a national achievement test, such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills or the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In addition, many high school students take the end-of-course tests in order to demonstrate knowledge before they can advance to the next course. Advanced Placement class students also take an end-of-course test to determine whether or not they will receive college credit.
Intelligence tests are different than achievement tests in that they measure someone's potential rather than progress. Intelligence tests can measure potential for academic achievement, or their strengths and weaknesses, according to Mind Disorders.com. Most intelligence tests have a vocabulary section, a mathematical reasoning section and a spatial abilities section. Some intelligence tests measure both verbal and nonverbal intelligence, others measure one selected intelligence, such as mathematical reasoning. The advantage of intelligence tests, according to the University of Michigan, is that teachers and psychologists have the ability to compare students of the same age and determine areas of need. The disadvantage is that intelligence tests usually only offer one score for intelligence, and intelligence can be measured across many dimensions.
Types of Intelligence Tests
Intelligence tests can be given to very young children, according to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test can be given to children as young as 3. These tests measure the capacity to learn new problem-solving techniques, mathematical reasoning, organization of visual information into patterns and memory capacity. The Weschler Intelligence Tests may be given to a child as young as 6. These tests measure verbal comprehension, perceptual organization, working memory and processing speed. There are adult versions of both the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test and the Weschler Intelligence Tests. In addition, children and adults who have difficulty reading may take a non-verbal intelligence test, such as the Test of Nonverbal Intelligence and Trade.
Lori Garrett-Hatfield has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She has a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. She has been working in the Education field since 1994, and has taught every grade level in the K-12 system, specializing in English education, and English as a Second Language education.