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View Diary: Seattle teachers refuse to give flawed standardized test (121 comments)

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  •  The MAP test (5+ / 0-)

    I could be mistaken, but isn't that this "adaptive" test?  It runs on a computer, and the more answers you get right, the harder the questions get, dynamically, via computer program.

    That thing was a disaster for one of my kids.  They told him "take as much time as you want".

    So, he took days just so he wouldn't get anything wrong.  One time he nearly did it.  He got this super high score (math part), but it took him a long time.  Then, another time, he just broke down in frustration.

    The test goes like this.

    1. Get a correct answer, then the next question gets harder.

    2. Get a wrong answer, then the question gets easier.

    It's the only test I ever heard of where they punish you for getting correct answers.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:46:29 PM PST

    •  I'm generally opposed to standardized tests... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, Sparhawk, Cassandra Waites

      ...but computer-adaptive tests strike me as a better way to test people than the standard examination.

      It's the only test I ever heard of where they punish you for getting correct answers.
      Only if you presume that getting harder questions is "punishment." For me, on standardized tests, my greatest enemy was boredom... I'd miss questions later on in the test because after 100 questions that were well below my skill level, I got so damn bored that my brain started wandering.

      On computer-adaptive tests (like the GRE), the skill level for the questions ramps up to the point where the test stays at least moderately interesting... and when I'm getting harder questions, I know I'm doing something right, which also helps me keep engaged.

      That said, I oppose the ridiculous high-stakes standardized testing systems being implemented in schools these days, because I don't think they're good for judging teachers or schools (which is what they are almost invariably used for).

      "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 Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:53:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Adaptive tests (4+ / 0-)

        Are, I think, the lesser evil of standardized testing.  The GRE makes intuitive sense, and allows to give far greater precision in scoring.  If you want to see something like it in action, see  It's a vocabulary test.  Rather than give you random words from a bag, the test calibrates around where you are performing, and attempts to make finer graduations.  It's pretty neat.  

        That being said, not sure why we want any standardized tests, anyway.  Let's talk about standardized federal funding of every single school, adjusting for high needs and English as a Second Language students, before we worry about testing, or at least at the same time as.  

      •  One of the other points about the GRE - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it's voluntary, and given to people already nearly through college. And by that point, the test-taker usually already has some experience with the sort of test where not finishing and not getting everything right are built into the design.

        And there are practice tests available so someone can get used to the effect.

        It's a different thing from tossing a small child or even a middle schooler an adaptive test they MUST take and telling them it's Very Important to get the answers right.

        I could tell when the questions adjusted down when I was taking the GRE. Not by much, but it was enough on the math section to let me know before the test was even over that it was possibly a good thing I wasn't taking it for a STEM program.

        I was a perfectionist in elementary, middle, and high school, and I really wish the people around me had seen that my (extremely high) SAT scores and my reactions to their reactions to them were a sign something was not quite right, because as it was it lead me to some not-nice mental places in grad school and now that I'm trying to get published.

        Throwing me an adaptive test back then, before I was old enough to really understand the concepts involved behind standardized testing styles, and forcing me to take it as a Very Important Thing? I don't think guidance counselors at the elementary and middle school levels get paid enough to deal with the reaction I would have had if I thought the questions were getting nicer mid-test.

        Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

        by Cassandra Waites on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:05:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Although I've never taken an adaptive test... (0+ / 0-)

        ...they seem unreasonable to me.

        On "standard" format tests, you can skip a question and come back to it later when it strikes you what the correct approach is. This is really more like real life - there are often several aspects to a problem to solve and the order you do them is often not important.  In adaptive tests, you don't have that opportunity and if you miss a question, you get steered onto a "detour" for a while and waste time recovering (if it's even possible to do that fully).

        I suppose such tests are more "gentle" to the test taker's ego (until they get the final score) as even the less successful students feel they are getting quite a few right -- they just don't realize they are getting "dumbed down" questions that have reduced value in the final score.

    •  My kids have told me the same thing (4+ / 0-)

      about these tests being adaptive like that. It's as if someone abdicated the whole notion of setting academic standards and left it up to some ill conceived algorithm. Whoever sold this crapware to schools is a first class con artist.

      This whole backwards reward / punishment conditioning is something that a lab rat might be subjected to. My kids told me that no one they know takes these tests seriously. If that's the case you would think that it would have been thrown out long ago.


      by rightiswrong on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:06:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It does not have to be a disaster. (0+ / 0-)

      MAP is an adaptive test. The proctor's manual explicitly says that there is no time limit on these tests. I personally have sat in a room with students who took nearly three hours to complete the math portion of MAP.

      I would encourage you not to think of the adaptive aspect of the test as "punishment." The instrument wants to measure the extent of a person's abilities.

      Your son, if challenged with this kind of evaluation again, should  not worry about getting wrong answers. Standard test taking skills should apply. But the very nature of the test as a measure of fundamental cognitive processing and academic skills will not impact his grade.

    •  As far as I understand them... (0+ / 0-)'s not really fair to say that the test taker is punished for getting a problem correct. By getting a problem correct they no longer have to slog through the easy problems of that form and have another level of opportunity opened to them to excel while getting an answer wrong may forever close that door in that test.

      In any event, I'm pretty sure I would hate the things. I would rather have all the possible problems in front of me with some sort of weighting shown so hard problems would get, say, a weight of 5 and easy problems a weight of 1. I can then decide to start by attacking the hard problems because I know the material well enough that that's were the best "bang for the buck" is if time becomes an issue.

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