This article in The Atlantic discusses ways in which testing can help student learning. The article distinguishes between standardized testing (e.g., summative tests) and formative assessment. Standardized testing is “static” and “summative” because they measure students’ sum total knowledge or ability at a fixed point in time. Formative assessments, on the other hand, are designed to discover what students do and do not know in order to expose gaps in knowledge. The article often quotes Henry Roediger, cognitive psychologist who researches the effects of testing and retention of knowledge, and presents a video in which he presented 10 benefits to testing and their applications to educational practice. The article concludes by saying that “tests may just hold the key to our educational success—as long as educators are willing to commit the time and effort required to design tests that foster learning rather than impede it.”
This article makes a compelling argument for frequent testing while learning is in process. The author does overly simplify the process of formative assessment showing a somewhat narrow view of how it can be implemented.