Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What does 'standardized' mean?

Since it plays such a big role in education these days, I found myself pondering just what the word standardized means, and just what it implies about the education we're trying to create these days.

Standard means many things.  The two definitions applicable to this particular context are

A) something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example
B) something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, extent, or quality
To summarize, when we talk about standardized, standard means the point we agree to call acceptable, as in "students need to meet standard"--a specific score on a performance test--in various school subjects.  It can also connote a certain level of quality.  "We set high standards"--levels of achievement that we expect.
Obviously, we could meet standard and achieve at very low standards....It depends on where the bar is set.
--ize makes the noun into a verb.  --d makes it past tense.
When we use the word standardized, then, we are using a passive voice construction to say that something has been fashioned into a form that has been connected or made into a standard.
Questions abound from this.  What has been standardized...the curriculum in order to make a largely objective test easier to administer, or the test in relationship to the curriculum?  Have learning outcomes been routinized along the way...a by-product of standardization.  Do students end up more standardized, then?  Who does the standardizing?  Who are the experts or authorities, in other words, who set the standards?  Do we all generally consent to these standards? 
I'm not sure I'm fond of the answers to these questions, so maybe I shouldn't ask.

1 comment:

Vik Vein said...

I think that the fact that everything is “standardized” in modern education just kills students’ desire to study and limit their ambitions and talents. The main aim of every learner nowadays is to get the prefect grade, that’s why they find it more comfortable to order papers from British Essay Writer and be among the best. But everything starts in the childhood, when little kids are really gifted, at the same time they have different interests and preferences but they all have to be taught taking into consideration these standards.