Non-standardized assessment looks at an individual's performance, and does not produce scores that allow us to compare that performance to another's. It allows us to obtain specific information about the student, and this can be in different formats.

Is This Teacher Assessing Her Students?
Is This Teacher Assessing Her Students?

Non-Standardized Testing is Informal Testing

Another term for non-standardized testing is informal testing. These tests are classroom tests and are usually developed by the teacher as opposed to some group of outside testers. These classroom tests assess students' learning over a period of time or after a particular unit of study. A score of 80% on a multiple choice test after reading a short story is a non-standardized score because it does not tell us how the student did in relation to his peers.

Criterion-Referenced Measurement

This is also a form of non-standardized testing. The desired level of achievement is the criterion. The criterion-referenced measurements are used to measure learning for a particular student. This way the teacher can document whether or not learning is taking place. Evidence of learning, or not, is readily apparent, and the focus here is on the performance of an individual student as opposed to the norm-referenced tests. Domain-referenced tests are similar to criterion-referenced. Performance is measured against a well-defined body (domain) of knowledge or tasks, and the focus is on the individual.

Forms of Non-Standardized Testing

Forms include portfolios, interviews, informal questioning, group discussions, oral tests, quick pop quizzes, exhibitions of work, projects and performance exams.

With portfolios the student gathers his work over a period of time, and the teacher will evaluate the work based on a scoring guideline. The student is encouraged to reflect on his work, which enhances the learning process. Performance exams are tests given to all students and are based on students performing some task, like writing an essay, or giving an oral presentation. These tasks are created by the teachers who teach the students, and so the exams drive the curriculum. It makes more sense for those doing the teaching to create the tests.

Accountability and Non-Standardized Tests

Parents and the community have a right to know how students are doing; therefore, non-standardized tests need to show how well schools and students are doing. Teachers are constantly assessing their students, and by doing so they are constantly adjusting and changing their teaching to meet individual students' needs. There can still be accountability with non-standardized assessment that provides parents, local officials, and state officials with the information needed. Teachers can be in constant touch with parents through the Internet, by calling, by parent conferences and by sending home progress reports and samples of work.

Success With Non-Standardized Testing

The key questions to ask with any kind of assessment is, "What is the purpose of this assessment?" and "Is this purpose meaningful and worthwhile?" If these questions are constantly referred to and constantly addressed then the assessment in itself is important, and this helps teachers address what is important to learn. It's a kind of backwards design. Ultimately the goal is to help students to learn, and to help them to learn the information and the skills that are important.