The influence of standardized achievement tests on grade 10 Pakistan Studies students in a private school in Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr Sherwin Rodrigues


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Assessment encompasses the whole teaching-learning process. Genuinely done, it helps to push a student beyond his/her current learning status, identifies and covers learning gaps, helps formulate organisational policies, helps government set educational goals and develop curriculum to achieve these goals. Thus, the ultimate aim of assessment is to ensure learning of the students to prepare them for life challenges at individual and collective level. This cannot be possible without equipping teachers and educational agencies to adopt such practices of authentic assessment.
Assessment has two important aspects (a) formative assessment and (b) summative assessment. The former is the one that teachers do to help students learn and master a set of grade appropriate skills whereas the latter refers to assessment of student learning at the end of a course or academic year. The examination held by an examination board is an example of summative assessment which involves high stakes related to admissions, job hunting, etc. thus having unavoidable implications in the lives of students in their future.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of standardised achievement tests on the learning of students Pakistan Studies in a private secondary school in Karachi. The sample selected for this study included two Pakistan Studies teachers and 6 students of grade 10 with a gender parity. The research design was qualitative in nature. The interviews, classroom observations, field notes, informal discussions were used as main modes of data collection. The data analysis was done through making codes and then developing themes and sub-themes which were further analysed in depth.
The findings of the data reveal the beliefs and practices of the teachers about standardised achievement tests. Since teachers believed that standardised achievement tests are taken as a yard stick to judge the success of a student at domestic, school and societal level, they adopt such practices which foster memorisation, cheating, competition and surface learning rather than developing critical and analytical skills. They employ such teaching methods which constrict the curriculum, pedagogy and authentic assessment thereby making schools more boring places. These teachers have a good idea of what is conceptual learning. Though they attach huge importance with involving students to explore diverse perspectives and develop their own judgment about via critical decision making. This shows the inconsistency between beliefs and practices with reference to teaching and assessment. Thus, the study suggests that by standardised achievement tests, though important as the only way to assess and certify students, but if overemphasised, it can also unleash negative washback impacts such as memorisation and surface learning along with many other social and ethical ills. Moreover, research work related to the impact of standardised achievement tests in the context of Pakistan is scarce which suggests that there is a need for conducting further researches in this area in both the public and private sector schools.

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