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What's Next for Tests?

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Doug Noon of Borderlands reviews the latest on assessment reform, arguing that the current standardized testing regime used in schools is too simplistic and too top-down to give teachers the means to create real learning gains. He offers a memorable analogy:

If we’d have used an NCLB-style approach to the Apollo moon mission, President Kennedy would have simply ordered NASA to fly conventional airplanes higher and higher until they fell out of the sky, and then blamed the pilots for lacking the will and the know-how to get the job done.

If you're interested in this topic, it just so happens we currently have a forum discussion going on about how the Obama administration should change testing.

4 Comments

If teachers spent less time as talking-textbooks and more time listening to their students they would need few tests to know how they are doing. Education is not something done to students.

I agree with Doug. I think we should change the was we test students. If Obama could change the standerdized testing that would help out a lot of students self esteem. Most students are not great test takers, if this were to change it might change those students as well.

Emily-Anne:

I'm going to throw in my disagreement. I think most students are just great little test takers. They know how to bubble in, and to pick one of the answers. What we have been discovering, since we started giving tests that had some reliability and validity (at least as compared to say, grades), is that they are not learning the content that we mean for them to learn. Now, back in the dark ages, when I was in ed school, we were presented with the revolutionary notion that where there is no learning, there is no teaching. We didn't like it any better than today's teachers, but there you have it. The difference today is that now we have some standardized measure of whether there is any learning. And we can slice and dice those metrics in lots of ways to see if we can detect some way in which there can actually be teaching going on when there is no learning, but I think we are going to have to come back to point A. Learning in this country is very poorly distributed.

Now--you can get mad at the thermometer because it tells you that it's cold, or you can break it, or change from Celsius to Fahrenheit, or you can believe what it says and put on a jacket.

The notion that most students are not great test-takers has just maintained a system of denial about the level of learning that is going on--and led to the mistaken notion that what we need to do is to teach more test-taking skills, and model the testing environment and a whole lot of hog-wash that is easier to get our arms around than figuring out how to improve learning.

I agree with Emily-Anne. Standardized tests are not yet outdated, and students can benefit from the various test-prep options. One way for students to prepare for the tests is to allow them to watch some of the free SAT prep videos available at studio4learning.tv

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Recent Comments

  • Sabrina: I agree with Emily-Anne. Standardized tests are not yet outdated, read more
  • Margo/Mom: Emily-Anne: I'm going to throw in my disagreement. I think read more
  • Emily-Anne Williams: I agree with Doug. I think we should change the read more
  • David D. Douglas: If teachers spent less time as talking-textbooks and more time read more

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