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

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  •  I'm a living example of this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philby

    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-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM

      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-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling

        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-)
          Recommended by:
          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
            or
            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.

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