What is a standardized assessment?

Standardized assessments are frequently used in the process of neuropsychological testing and diagnostic evaluations.

A standardized assessment is a test consisting of a set of questions pulled from a common bank. All test takers are required to answer the same questions so the test can be scored in a consistent manner. Utilizing a set of questions allows the opportunity to compare the performance of individuals relative to other test takers. Standardized assessments are based on criteria established by the state or other governing authority. 

It is important to remember that standardized assessments are only one component of a comprehensive evaluation. The results of these tests are not necessarily reflective of your child as a whole, so there are other factors that the clinician(s) will consider when analyzing the results of the assessment.

Types of Standardized Assessments

There are two types of standardized assessments: norm-referenced and criterion-referenced. 

Norm-referenced assessments compare an individual to their peers (i.e., graded using a curve). An example of a norm-referenced assessment you may be familiar with is the ACT or SAT. These exams are used to compare test takers to each other.

Criterion-referenced assessments compare individuals to a criterion. An example of a criterion-referenced assessment you may be familiar with is the Advanced Placement (AP) exam used by high schools throughout the country. These exams are used to assess how well a student has learned the curriculum.

Why a Standardized Assessment is Utilized In Practice

Standardized assessments are a way to assess individuals in a generally fair and objective manner. Objective assessments are useful since they reduce the potential for human error, such as favoritism, bias, or subjective evaluation. If used correctly, standardized assessments provide valid and reliable data that is generalizable and replicable.

What Is a Standardized Assessment Used For?

Each standardized assessment gathers its own set of data and information about specific areas of development. In the context of a diagnostic evaluation, a standardized assessment is used to examine a targeted area of development such as gross motor skills, fine motor skills, social skills, language skills, vision and hearing, cognition, and balance.

However, when different assessments are used together they can be used to:

  • Determine if a child is ready for school
  • Identify children who need services or specialized academic support
  • Connect students with programs that are better for their learning style
  • Evaluate if students are meeting learning standards
  • Identify if there are gaps or spaces in learning and progress
  • Provide helpful insights about a child’s developmental skills

Examples of Standardized Assessments

The countless standardized assessments in the world of healthcare can be daunting to parents who are seeking services for their children. In order to further your understanding of a standardized assessment, here is a list of standardized assessments used outside of healthcare that you may be familiar with:

  • Achievement tests
  • Aptitude tests
  • College-admissions tests
  • IQ tests
  • ISEE: Independent School Entrance Examination
  • GED: General Educational Development Test
  • ACT: American College Test
  • SAT: Scholastic Aptitude Test

Do you have questions about diagnostic evaluations and standardized assessments? Contact the Goldman Center to speak with a specialist who can answer all of your questions! (773) 998-8500