A standardized test is one that is administered under standardized or controlled conditions that specify where, when, how, and for how long children may respond to the questions or "prompts." Standardized tests should meet acceptable standards for technical qualities in construction, administration, and use.
Goodwin and Driscoll (1980, pp. 59-60) note that standardized tests have the following qualities:
The great majority of standardized tests are marketed by commercial test publishers, who have prepared them for use in a broad array of educational institutions in many different settings. This means that they are based on educational objectives common to such diverse schools, and "rarely will these common objectives coincide exactly with the specific objectives of the individual classroom teacher or project director" (Goodwin & Driscoll, 1980, p. 60).
Individually administered standardized tests can serve important purposes when they are selected wisely and used as intended by the test developers, and their results are not overgeneralized or misinterpreted. Hills (1992) notes:
"The primary strengths of standardized tests, if they are properly designed and properly used, are that they can eliminate biases in assessment of individual children and that they provide data that can be aggregated, permitting comparisons of groups to a standard." (p. 49)
School personnel must not, however, limit assessment to such tests or allow the tests to dominate assessment of young children.