Many standardized tests today fall closer to the second description.
Content can vary when individually administered tests are adapted to the examinee.
Standardized test conditions suggest fixed administration procedures, but as Brennan (2006) argues, “It is particularly important to understand that psychometrics is silent with respect to which conditions of measurement, if any, should be fixed” (p. Standardized administration conditions may or may not include time allotted, materials used (e.g., calculators, #2 pencils), and instructions given.
To keep all such conditions equal would be unlikely in the real world.
For example, if examinees were given different directions for completing the test (e.g., to guess versus to leave a question blank when the correct answer is unknown), some differences in scores could be the result of directions rather than ability.
Research Paper On Standardized Testing
Standardization attempts to reduce this possibility by holding as many factors as possible constant in testing.
What has remained constant across the changing definitions of standardization, however, is a focus on the purpose of standardization: to ensure fairness.
The strict definition of standardization proposed by Cronbach was never completely realized.
Our purpose is to focus on the nature of standardized tests.
We hope that in learning about standardized testing, readers can become critical consumers of testing-based statistics and arguments.