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Standardized Tests in Illinois

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Standardized tests are administered to allow reliable and valid comparisons to be made among students taking the test. Two major types of standardized tests are currently in use; norm-referenced and criterion-referenced. A norm-referenced test is a test that has been given to representative samples of students such that norms of performance are established. Each student taking the test receives a score that can be compared to the norm or normal or sample of students. The scores are then reported in percentiles. The main purpose of these tests is to rank students along a distribution of performance. Because of this tests are likely to have items that are very difficult for the grade level so students can be ranked. A criterion-referenced test looks like a norm-referenced test but multiple choice items are used and directions are standardized. The reason these tests are administered is based upon the content that all students are expected to learn. Scores are based on the amount learned by the student and a passing score is then given. These scores are not compared to other students. Standardized tests are used to show how a student is doing. They can show if a program is working well and can show if the educators are using effective teaching methods. Schools are graded to see if there overall program is helping the student to achieve their goals. In the next paragraphs I am going to explain to you about the purpose of the American College Testing Program (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

"Learned helplessness is a phenomenon containing three components: contingency, cognition, and behavior. Contingency addresses the uncontrollability of the situation. Cognition refers to the attributions that people make regarding their situation or surroundings of which they are a part. Behavior allows individuals to decide whether they will give up or proceed with the obstacle set before them" (Peterson, Maier, & Seligman, 1993; Firmin, Hwang, Copella, & Clark, 2004). When a student thinks about college he must take either the ACT or the SAT test to be admitted into the college. Students have a lot of decisions to make that can be stressful. Failure is an aspect that students fear and can determine whether they will succeed in life.

The ACT was founded in 1959. A lot has changed with this test its purpose is to help students make better choices with life and what college they plan to attend. It also serves as a way for colleges to determine if a student is qualified to be admitted to the school. This test is a multiple-choice test that covers four areas: Math, Reading, English, and Science.

These tests use reasoning, analysis, problem solving, and what your previous knowledge of the subject is. It measures the kinds of tasks that college students are expected to learn (, 2004).

The math part of the section contains 60 multiple-choice questions within a 60 minute section. The English part has 75 multiple-choice questions within a 45 minute section. So time is a factor. The reading part has 40 multiple-choice questions within a 35 minute sections and science has 40 multiple-choice questions within a 35 minute section.

"Taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT) is perhaps the single most important event in a college-bound student's junior-senior year" (McManus, & Luger, 1991). Each college's requirements are



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