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

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  •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
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    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.

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