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View Diary: This is Why Standardized Tests Fail (32 comments)

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  •  I disagree. Standardized tests are great for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grrr

    measuring whether a student has mastered a base level of skills necessary to have an acceptable probability of success at the next level.  These tests should be applicable across all regions, races, ethnicities, and genders. I have never understood the argument against standardized tests.  

    "Because I am a river to my people."

    by lordcopper on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 07:52:36 AM PDT

    •  You do realize that SAT scores are no better at (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pierre9045, Catkin

      predicting college success than GPA.

      Furthermore:

      There is no significant difference in the success rates of students who submit their standardized test scores to colleges and those who don’t, according to “Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions,” released today by Principal Investigator William C. Hiss. Link
      Many universities have made submitting SAT and ACT test scores optional.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 08:19:27 AM PDT

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    •  That's an unsupported claim. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pierre9045, BMScott
      Standardized tests are great for measuring whether a student has mastered a base level of skills necessary to have an acceptable probability of success at the next level.
      Those who profit from standardized tests—and those whose ideology is bolstered by arguments from standardized testing—claim they are great for measuring the skills necessary for the next academic level.

      It's an open question as to whether or not they actually do measure the skills necessary for the next academic level, at least as the next academic level had been traditionally conceived.

      For that matter, it's also an open question as to whether or not the skills that are becoming increasingly necessary at the next academic level—like test-taking, bubble-filling, learning toward the test—are truly what we want our children to be learning in school.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 08:39:31 AM PDT

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      •  Unsupported? It's common sense. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grrr

        What's wrong with standardized testing for basic objectives (mathematics, grammar, history, science) which are the building blocks of an education?  Is it the standardization you object to?

        "Because I am a river to my people."

        by lordcopper on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 09:13:01 AM PDT

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        •  "Common sense"? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BMScott
          What's wrong with standardized testing for basic objectives (mathematics, grammar, history, science) which are the building blocks of an education?
          And how exactly do you test for those basic objectives in such a way as to remove any other factors?

          For example, how does the test differentiate between those who don't understand the concept being tested, and those who don't understand the question itself, or the system being used to answer it? How does the test accurately reflect the abilities of the student who, say, knows history really well, but doesn't understand one of the words in the question and is thus doomed to guess?

          How does the test measure those actual skills or concepts, differentiating between those who have actually mastered those skills or concepts and those who are good at scoring well in standardized tests on those skills or concepts but cannot actually use them outside the rather limited scope of the standardized test?

          How does the test analyze the skills of those whose styles of reasoning or thinking don't gel with the kind of linear thinking required by testing, or whose attention levels aren't conducive to being able to think at their best throughout the kinds of long test periods being implemented in schools?

          How does the test adjust for those who might have a more difficult time learning due to trouble at home, not enough to eat during the day, or parents who don't have the time to help them with their homework, such that the test measures their actual abilities accurately in comparison to those who are privileged with stable home lives, plenty of food, and parents who can help them?

          When confronted with the very real gulf between what the tests purport to measure and the number of factors for which they are completely unable to adjust, I don't see how the "common sense" conclusion that the tests measure the "basic objectives" of education holds any water at all.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 10:08:39 AM PDT

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          •  Not to mention the fact that there is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pierre9045

            rarely any recourse if a student knows better than the person who constructed a faulty question; indeed, that student may never even discover that he or she got the question ‘wrong’.  A classic example from the Iowa Tests of Educational Development many years ago gave the students the four words cartons, altogether, possibilities, and intensionally, and the fifth choice none wrong, and asked which, if any, of the four words was misspelled.  Apparently the test’s constructors were not familiar with the word intensionally, which is used, for instance, in logic and semantics: the correct answer is none wrong, but the ‘correct’ answer was intensionally.  A bright and knowledgeable student with an aptitude for taking standardized tests simply had to guess whether the constructors were familiar with the word or not.  More open-ended formats allow a student to explain his or her reasoning.

    •  Standardized tests do not test (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catkin, FloridaSNMOM

      whether a student has a base level of skills. All they do is test whether a student knows how to take standardized tests.

      There are skills that they allow students to display: logical reasoning, time management, maybe some understanding of statistics. But if the subject is electricity, how do I know that the student can really use Ohm's law in a practical setting?

      Do you really think the people above's inability to answer simple questions really reflect their intelligence and knowledge?

      "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

      by pierre9045 on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 08:58:07 AM PDT

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      •  Are you saying that performing mathematical (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grrr

        calculations on a standardized test is more about "knowing how to take standardized tests", than understanding the concepts?

        "Because I am a river to my people."

        by lordcopper on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 09:19:40 AM PDT

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        •  In many cases it is as there is often not enough (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pierre9045

          time (by design) to answer all the questions by doing all the work thus you have to use clever shortcuts which vary depending on the rules of the test.  For example, knowing whether you actually lose points for a wrong answer as opposed to just not gaining any makes a huge difference in strategy (specifically when you should take a guess).  Not to mention learning how to recognize which answers look "too good to be true" and thus are most likely wrong.  So yes, you can easily spend a few weeks just covering different testing strategies and end up having higher scores than actually studying the material being tested.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 11:05:39 AM PDT

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        •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BMScott

          As far as standardized tests the way they are administered in the US are concerned, one need not necessarily know the material all that well, as long as they know they basic rules for tests.

          To use an example from the tv show The Simpsons, at one point Bart is supposed to take a standardized test, and how he performs determines how the entire school is judged. As a result Lisa gives him tips. I forget them exactly, but basically she tells him that two out of the four options can usually be eliminated, and when in doubt, just pick C. for a lot of tests, this type of approach is bound to net you a passing grade, at worst, regardless of subject.

          I have also seen this teaching university level physics. I have no doubt all the students I get at one point passed basic algebra, but more often than not, all I have to do is ask a simple question, such as, "what is the ratio?" and they just stare at me for far longer than is comfortable.

          Finally, speaking as someone who has always been good at taking standardized tests in my life, I have never once been convinced any of them have ever properly judged my or my peers' competence of the subject.

          "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

          by pierre9045 on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 12:00:01 PM PDT

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          •  I remember exactly one standardized test (0+ / 0-)

            that I thought might have done what it was supposed to do, and it was an aptitude test, not a test of knowledge: the Army Language Aptitude Test that I took in basic training in 1970.  (It was also fun, but then I’m interested in languages.)

            Here’s an anecdotal but concrete illustration of the importance of the ability to take standardized tests.  When my ex-wife was applying to graduate schools to work towards a PhD in history, she had to take the history GRE.  At that point she was finishing a strong MA in history.  I’m a mathematician; I’ve some interest in history, but my knowledge of the subject was certainly less than hers.  However, I’ve always been very good at taking standardized tests, and she was not.  As part of her preparation for the GRE she took a practice GRE. Seeing it lying about, I gave it a try just for fun.  I scored 100 points higher than she did.

        •  An example: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BMScott, pierre9045

          I have a math disability. I have a lot of trouble with math concepts. I can however pass a math standardized test, just by using logic, reasoning, and elimination of multiple choice answers. If I can estimate what the answer should be, I have a really good shot at guessing the answer. It has NOTHING to do with understanding the concept or being able to do all the math correctly for the problem. I've done this all of my life. Give me a multiple choice test and I'll ace it. Make me sit and do the math and I'm completely lost, and I'll likely invert numbers even more frequently in a testing 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 Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 12:39:04 PM PDT

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          •  What, exactly, is a "math disability"? (0+ / 0-)

            The irony is that you have the "logic and reasoning" to pass a standardized test, but you have a "math disability".

            "Because I am a river to my people."

            by lordcopper on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 06:30:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Look up Dyscalculia. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lordcopper

              I can apply logic and reasoning to things, but I can't necessarily add, subtract, multiply or divide correctly, and I often forget math 'rules' like how to multiply fractions or find a common denominator. One day it is there, the next it's gone.

              But, I can apply logic like this (an example from my fast food working days long ago): Someone orders two cups of coffee. I enter it in, they pay with a ten, and to me it looks like the change is $2.74. Well obviously that's wrong, it's either $7.24 or $7.42. Then I would take the next step to figure out which one it is. Logic, reasoning, and knowing my limits and catching my own disability and being able to compensate for it.

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

              by FloridaSNMOM on Sun Apr 27, 2014 at 05:43:04 AM PDT

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    •  They measure student competence, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pierre9045, lordcopper

      are used to measure teacher competence. See my comment upthread for an explanation as to why that can't work.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 09:24:11 AM PDT

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