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View Diary: School board member who bombed Florida 10th grade test comes forward (216 comments)

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  •  You've gotten a lot wrong here (0+ / 0-)

    First of all, when you assume I'm in education, again we're dealing with a word with multiple meanings.  I was an educator at the university level who had to give tests; I wasn't from an "Education Department" engaged in the science of test writing, although I'm familiar with it because we used such tests in admissions.

    Of course, in my tests for university students, I include a lot of extraneous information and had to write tests that were a lot like the complex real world problems they would encounter.  

    You mention several times what a college student should be able to do, and I agree.

    But that's not what this test is about.  It's not a test of college students' problem solving abilities; it's a test of 10th graders' ability to master basic mathematical concepts and skills.  That's not my opinion or preference; it's a fact which is embodied in legislation, in the test material's description of the test, and in the entire public policy debate that has surrounded the rise of high stakes testing:

    The idea that a math test should test only math is something that you bring to the table based on your professional training.

    No, the idea that a math test should test only math is what the law surrounding education and testing says; that's not based on my professional training which is not in writing 10th grade tests, but writing complex essay questions for professional students in universities.

    Your assumptions, therefore are all wrong, to the point of the bizarre, eg:

    Few people (and fewer college graduates) work with fences.

    Since when are 10th graders "college graduates"?  And what makes you so sure that in an economically diverse agricultural state like Florida, full of immigrants, farm workers, orange and other fruit orchards, gardeners, contractors (and their kids), a real estate boom and bust, there are no kids who "work with fences" or otherwise with "grade" and "slope" in the real world construction sense -- especially in light of the fact that this is a test that every child must take, (including the children of those aforementioned workers) not just "college graduates" in the 10th grade who number approximately zero?   That's a bizarre assumption on your part.

    •  You seem to have lost track (1+ / 0-)
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      Hamden, you seem to have lost track of what this whole conversation is about.  Maybe it would help to rewind to the beginning to understand what we're talking about here.

      “If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.

      The test is being criticized by Rick Roach on the basis that it is inappropriate for distinguishing which students are "college material."  He criticizes it primarily on the basis that educated post-college professionals do not need to know or be able to do the math tested.

      “I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.

      I am defending the test on the basis that being able to answer this sort of question is typical of the sort of thing one must do in a profession for which college is required.  That is to say, I am arguing with Rick Roach's statement, which I find incorrect.  Some people here are basically sympathizing with Rick Roach's argument that this type of math problem doesn't test the right sort of thing, and I am disagreeing with them in turn.  And somewhere along the line on just about any discussion on here, someone wants the discussion not to be about the matter at hand, but about themselves.

      Obviously, I don't know more about you than what you say.  If you say you are a professional involved in test development, I believe you.  If you say you're a college professor, I believe you.  If you say you're a german shepherd, I believe you.  If you say test writing is a science, okay, there I don't believe you anymore.

      If you are making tests for your own students to help you determine how well they have learned things you taught then, then I say bully for you.  That's a great way to use testing, and I've done it myself back when I was teaching at the college level.  You say you write great problems with lots of extraneous information to make them more real-worldy.  Super for you!  Great for your students!  My tests were probably more narrowly focused, but I was probably teaching different things.

      All of that has very little to do with the question at hand, of course.  The question at hand has to do with the testing industry and with education professionals who are apparently quite dim and with what is appropriate for a 10th grade standardized math test.

      I find what's on the test to be perfectly relevant to a 10th grade math education (which is what I have), and the questions to be not terribly confusing if you've got some sense in your head.  I find the idea you should have to use brains as well as math to pass the test not entirely scandalous.  

      I think that quibbling because someone can imagine children being confused when talking about fences and slopes misses the point of the problem and of the test by a wide shot.  Confusion is part and parcel of life, part and parcel of studying and testing, and trying to extirpate it entirely doesn't do anybody any favors.  I think this fence question is a good problem, and typical of those on the SAT and the GRE, which are more important standardized tests.  If you pay attention, it's very easy.  If you don't, it can be confusing.  

      Going back to Rick Roach's argument, I expect that being able to answer a question like this correctly is similar to the kinds of quandaries his "wide circle of friends in various professions" probably need to resolve regularly.  I don't find that it has "little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning."  If he's really "able to make sense of complex data," then he should be able to answer a question like that one.  

      What Rick Roach wants is to dumb down the test so that everybody passes and he no longer has to deal with the consequences of high failure rates.  What he should want instead is to teach the kids so they can pass the test.  But teaching is far more difficult and less remunerative than administration.  And every day the kids spend cramming for or taking these tests is a day removed from teaching.

      There are big problems these days with the flood of standardized tests that kids have to take.  Weeks of instruction are lost to cramming.  And now some want teachers and principals to be judged on the results, and funds to be allocated based on results.   I don't like it at all.  I think that's a gross misuse of testing.

      But the problem is not that this particular test is too hard, or that this particular question is inappropriate.  Going back to the drawing board for a "mathier" math test (as you claim is required by law) wouldn't resolve anything.   All the well-meaning people who want to make tests either more specifically math-focused, or conversely, more contextual and real-worldy, don't really change the outcome as long as the process is abused.  Having a bigger committee or more specific legislation or paying more money to more private companies to come up with new versions of standardized tests is never going to fix the fundamental problems with high-stakes standardized testing and misuse of the results.

      Rick Roach criticizes the tests based on their content.  I find the content (based on the samples linked here) of the tests acceptable.  My criticism is about their use.  Classrooms should return to the business of teaching, and widespread tests should return to the background or become entirely extra-curricular, like the SAT.

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