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View Diary: Having it both ways: Tennessee Standardized Testing (55 comments)

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  •  A test is only one indicator (2+ / 0-)
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    FloridaSNMOM, banjolele

    of what a student has learned. Some students do not test well (for varying reasons). Also, a test usually only samples from a vast amount of information and skills. Test makers most likely disagree on what is or is not important enough to be included (or excluded) on a test. Several things need to be looked at when evaluating a students' progress & achievement. Testing is necessary but not sufficient.

    •  I'm a living example of this... (1+ / 0-)
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      World History: We had a teacher who tested on dates and names, a lot of fill in the blank tests where you had to put in dates and names. I passed the course, but barely.

      WWII advanced history: The teacher put five essay questions on the board, you picked three. You wrote involved answers about what happened and why (and yes also dates and names). Each question was worth 33.3 points. You got .1 point for remembering to put your name on the page(at least that was his joke). I had a 96% average in that class.

      Why the difference? I have a disability that affects the recollection of numbers (and inverts order of numbers, I could think 1764 and write 1746 and never see it), as well as names. When I was writing essay questions getting a name or number wrong was a small fraction of the total points for the answer. He was much more interested that we learned what happened, why, etc. In World History each question was worth x amount of points, almost all of those were dates and names.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Fri May 24, 2013 at 09:13:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your world history teacher was a shitty teacher. (1+ / 0-)
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        Dates & names without context isn't testing your knowledge of history.  It is testing your memorization skills.  That is 2 differing things.

        Without context, you get the "So what." issue.

        WWII started in Europe on _____.

        Is a "so what" question.  1 Sept 1939 without context is meaningless.  What was tested - memorization skills, not your knowledge of WWII.

        •  I won't argue about the World History teacher.. (1+ / 0-)
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          He was also the wrestling coach and all the wrestlers somehow managed to get A's in his class while getting C's or lower in every other class. And yes, it was all about memorization.
          I had a Science teacher who was the same way however and I aced his class because it wasn't about memorizing dates and names.  (Pluto is the planet .... from the sun. for example. Yes, I know, Pluto is now not considered a planet, but this was the 80's.) My memorization skills have always been good, with most things. I even used to win free weeks of summer camp through church by memorizing bible verses. Just don't ask me to type in a number, because I'm as likely to switch the order around as get it right.

          My point was you can tell more about how much a student has learned through a short answer or essay question then a simple fill in the blank or multiple choice (where you can guess). Especially if that question requires thought or analysis of the situation.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Fri May 24, 2013 at 09:33:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •   All questions should require analysis. (2+ / 0-)
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            FloridaSNMOM, Philby

            Otherwise, you are just testing memorization skills.  Memorizing data without the ability to analyze or apply it is worthless.

            The problem with short answer/essay questions is that they are very time consuming to answer and grade - which is why standardized testing doesn't use them very much.  

            For standardized testing, multiple choice questions are actually the best IF THEY ARE PROPERLY CONSTRUCTED.

            The key for multiple choice is how you structure it.  Doing them well is really, really hard.  Doing them wrong is really, really easy.

            Let me give you an example using your example.

            Rather than asking

            Pluto is the planet .... from the sun.

            List the planets (and some of the larger moons, i.e. Titan) in alphabetical order.  You have to number the planets from closest to furthest from the sun.

            In this example, I have multiple choice along with the proper type of distractors.

            That  is an example of a properly constructed multiple choice question.  

            To make it a poor example, I'll do what my science teacher did - list the planets in orbit order.

            Exact same information, but poorly constructed.

            •  The Pluto question is especially terrible (0+ / 0-)

              because the answer changes over time :-)

              TODAY, it's outside Neptune's orbit (and no longer a planet).

              In 1998, it was closer to the sun than Neptune.

              But it is just the kind of question that might be on a test, and you'd be guessing whether the people who wrote the test actually knew the state of the art.

              IE, if the question was:

              True or False: Pluto is the 9th planet from the Sun.

              Mike Brown at Caltech would answer False, as would Neil deGrasse Tyson. But what answer did the people who made the test put on it? :-)

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:43:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You are only testing "memorization skills" (0+ / 0-)

              if the amount of information you are asking for is at a level likely to challenge the students' memorization capacity.

              There are lots of things we -- or at least, I -- want people to know that at some level represent "just" memorization. Almost any technique-based skill requires an element of memorization. For example, you cannot solve calculus problems without either:

              a. Applying memorized rules
              b. Looking up the rules and their explanation in a textbook.

              But of course, if you allow the students to look up the rules and their explanation in a textbook, then what you are really testing is "just" their ability to look something up in a textbook. Etc.

              The categories involved are simply not as reducible as people would like them to be. You assert elsewhere that there are many alternative ways to do "Standardized" testing -- but are there really? I mean, yes, there are alternatives ways to do evaluation, grading, ranking, or whatever it is people want to do with systems of evaluation, grading, ranking etc. -- but can those other schemes be meaningfully Standardized? I rather doubt that you and I would agree on what would or would not constitute the Standard.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Fri May 24, 2013 at 08:16:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, there are (0+ / 0-)

                Testing doesn't have to be in a classroom with 50 questions.

                You can do hands on testing

                You can build scenarios where the student has to take the knowledge that they were given in class and apply it.

                As an example,  one of the lessons I developed was for SRP processing for Unit deployment.

                The student takes the course, and the test is a scenario - every ELO and LSA were turned into situations in the scenario.  The student has to apply the knowledge they learned to the questions they are asked.

    •  But a test is what we use to measure learning. (0+ / 0-)

      And you are reinforcing my point.

      For a test to actually measure something, you have to know what you are measuring.  Vast amounts of information has to be distilled into what is considered most critical to least critical.

      Once you do that, you write the test (or in my case a test bank).  My tests came in 3 flavors - Version A, Version B, and Version C.  It is harder for the students to cheat if the student to the left or right of you has a different test than you do.

      Once the test is written, you compare it to your list of critical information to insure that all of that critical information is addressed.

      Then you write your lessons, with the test next to your lesson plan.  This way you ensure that the critical information is covered.  

      By using this method,  "We didn't cover that in class." won't be coming up.

      •  Testing is only part of student evaluation. (1+ / 0-)
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        Did you get it that  FloridaSNMOM had difficulty with standardized testing because of a disability? Also, the format of the test influences the outcome of the test (true/false, multiple choice, essay, etc.). Some students do better on some than others, You refer to "my tests." Do you have experience as a teacher, or are you speaking from the perspective of a student? If you have not had experience as a teacher, believe me, there is a LOT that goes into proper student evaluation; testing is NOT the only thing to be considered. A good or bad score on a test (especially a standardized test) is not always a good indicator of how a student will achieve outside a testing environment.

        •  Yes I was a teacher (1+ / 0-)
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          And later a course developer and after that a course chief.

          I am right there with you.  You are right, there are a LOT of other things that are involved in testing.

          Standardized Testing doesn't HAVE to be 100 questions, true, false, short answer, and/or multiple choice.

          There are many, many different ways to test a student's knowledge.

          "Standardized Testing" is done the way it is because it is quickest to grade and cheapest to make, not because it is the best way.

          And it is the easiest way for dumbass adults to attack the education system.  And, as an added bonus, it provides another front on the War on Women.

          •  I'm glad to hear that you were a teacher. (0+ / 0-)

            I'm with you completely regarding standardized testing. Even in college, in several of my lower level math courses, the instructor would grade the questions solely based on the final answer. When I graded papers for my jr. high school math students, I always had them show their work. I always gave at least partial credit if they were working the problem properly but failed to reach the correct answer due to some slight arithmetic miscalculation. This is the type of thing that a standardized test will fail to give credit for, but is an important factor in learning to do math.

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