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  •  Let me tell you a story about tests. (11+ / 0-)

    In Texas, where I grew up, they have a thing called the University Interscholastic League, and it runs various competitions among the schools: football, basketball, golf, and other sports, as well as academic competitions. One such is number sense, a contest in which you are asked to solve math problems in your head. In ten minutes you read problems, do calculations, and write down the answer, and only the answer. Other pencil marks get you disqualified. This contest was a big deal at our school and I participated. I was given class time and study hall time to drill and drill. These drills consisted of taking actual tests that had been used in previous competitions. I got better and better. I won district and region and went to state. I was a whiz at doing calculations in my head. My younger sister followed behind me and became a whiz as well.

    This drilling helped my brain. I have no doubt about it. Finally I went to college and took a psychology course. The professor noticed my computational abilities and asked me to take an IQ test. I asked if my sister, who was still in high school, could also take it. He said she could. So, one Saturday morning we took it and it was filled with simple math and similar problems. Our score was off the charts--literally. He was amazed. No one had ever scored so well and he had used the test for years. But my sister and I weren't amazed, we simply had practiced a skill that the test rewarded. We weren't especially smart, but that skill helped us in the SAT's, college placement tests, etc. because it gave us confidence. We were good at taking tests, and that is a very important skill.

    Now more than thirty years later I had retired and was teaching, as a substitute, in a large Texas high school. I was there when the state tests were being given. The kids were on edge. They had been drilled by their teachers on content, but they had not been drilled on how to take tests. That would have been more useful.

    At one time I developed a program for high school students who wanted to prepare for the SAT's and so forth. I drilled and drilled with speed reading, number sense type calculations, etc. I was drilling them on how to take tests. I had nothing to do with content. My students and I believed that their high scores were partially due to these drills.

    So, in my case, making a high score on a test did mean that I was smarter or knew more than those who made lower scores. It just meant that I had been trained to take tests. That is all.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:53:05 AM PST

    •  An error: (4+ / 0-)

      I meant to say, "So, in my case making a high score did not mean that I was smarter than those who made lower scores."

      Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

      by hestal on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:56:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My kids are so bad at taking tests (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hestal, chuckvw, Andrew F Cockburn

        It's scary.

        I can, and do, get them math tutors, but what they really need is a tutor to teach testing skills, as you note in your comment.

        It's a lot harder to find that kind of help, and the teachers all have this, "oh, they'll be fine" attitude.

        I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

        by coquiero on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 11:10:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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