Sunday, July 1, 2018

Standardized Testing versus Future Job Skills

The debate on the use and effectiveness of standardized tests is familiar to educators. The fact that the tests are not popular among educators or students has not deterred their existence. The tests continue to fuel data-driven analyses about school performances and determine what policy changes need to be made in the education systems.

It is interesting to consider Hattie’s research (Petty, 2009) on standardized tests and teaching strategies. Hattie’s research points to the fact that teacher-centric teaching methods aid standardized test results. According to Hattie’s analysis, creative programs, interactive videos, outdoor education and peer tutoring have considerably low positive effects on standardized test scores compared to the explicit teacher driven teaching approaches. As we go down the list in Hattie’s research (Petty, 2009), we find that teaching strategies and tools such as concept mapping, hypermedia instruction, problem-based learning, open-ended learning, metacognition, and play have an even lower effect size on standardized tests.

On the other hand, The Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum (Gray, 2016) lists problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity as the top three skills needed by workers in the year 2020. In collaboration with organizations, most educational institutions are making an effort to serve their students by preparing them to be a part of the future workforce. Thus creative programs, interactive learning, inquiry, and problem-based learning are all a part of the teaching process. With 21st century learning on the educational forefront, educational strategies are moving quite literally towards the strategies that yield the lowest results on standardized tests. The question then is, what are we trying to measure with the standardized tests? And eventually, what effects will the standardized test results have on building our students’ skills and preparing them for the future?


Gray, A. (2016). The 10 skills you need to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Petty, G. (2009). John Hattie’s table of effect sizes. In Evidence-based teaching (2nd Ed). (pp. 60-70). Cheltenham, UK: Nelson Thornes.

Teamwork men rope force tug of war sport [online image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The future of jobs and skills. (n.d.). In The World Economic Forum. Retrieved from

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