Skip to main content

I'm an educator with only a few years experience, and most of it abroad, so today was my first day giving out and administering a standardized test.  I thought I would collect my impressions and try to weigh in on the big debate.  I was neutral beforehand.  I know that effective teaching can only be measured in ways that cannot be put on a test, like giving someone confidence or inspiring someone to reach new intellectual heights.  I think most teachers would be happy to know that a kid they educated went on to become a molecular biologist that works on ending world hunger rather than knowing their class scored "above average" on a test. I also know standardized tests are not completely useless.  You need to track progress some kind of way. So, what happened when I first got some real life experience?

First off, it's so easy to cheat.  If you really wanted to.  I don't care about the test myself.  I know my kids will do fine, and a lot of them are ESL learners who haven't been in the U.S. even a full year.  Even the ESL learners were telling me the test was a cinch after it was all done.  When I collected their sheets, I thought to myself "If I were being paid based on the results of this test, then I could just switch some of these answers in the office.  Heck, I could even offer subtle hints now as to what the answers are."  No official from the standardized testing company was there to vouch for the integrity of their test.  You just send the results off.  I'm sure that other schools probably have more stringent rules, but without someone from the company there, the only way you could tell there wasn't cheating would be whistle-blowers.  

If I were going to be able to get a new car or make a few extra thousand from erasing a few bubbles, I could see how some people could sleep at night doing it and pull it off.  

I don't teach what's on the test.  First off, most of the questions have no real world applications, have little to do with critical thinking skills, and most of the time test to see if the child can mine for important words or spit out rote, memorized information.  My 7th graders do Algebra I, World History, Chemistry/Physics, and a host of other topics at a much deeper level, beyond what the core state curriculum calls for, which is what I thought the test would try to capture.  I have 12 year old children in my English class comparing short stories for imagery and symbolism, and crafting thesis statements, so having them read long, boring stories and answering questions that oftentimes you can just answer by looking at the wording seems like a poor use of class time.  

I couldn't imagine teaching what's on the test.  The lessons would be stale, half the time they wouldn't be challenging, and all I'd do is churn out drones.  I'd rather have kids who knew what logical fallacies are and how to reason than if the know what a memometer is.  If they need one, I want them know how to find it for themselves.  These tests can't capture that.

So where do I come down in this debate?  I feel the test was a waste of time.  I don't think designing lesson plans around what is being tested would make for lifelong learners.  I don't see how the test has any integrity, and I'm not sure why our school shells out money to do the test just so they could put that they do well on standardized tests on some pamphlet.  Wait.  Well, the testing company does make a tidy profit there doesn't it?

I get it.

Originally posted to sujigu on Tue May 14, 2013 at 04:48 PM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  My experience with 7th & 8th grade (17+ / 0-)

    students taking standardized tests many years ago made me very skeptical of the scores because so few students really tried to do their best. Most just wanted to finish quickly. I'm sure students today are even more weary of being tested and usually don't care about the test results. I was amused recently to hear three high school principals talk about the success of a required test for graduation - all three emphasized that the students took the tests seriously.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Tue May 14, 2013 at 05:41:38 PM PDT

    •  My experience was similar (9+ / 0-)

      many years ago. Some students would finish quickly because they didn't bother reading the questions. If they wanted a challenge, they would bubble-in the answer sheets to make a pattern or picture.

    •  I had an 8th grader (15+ / 0-)

      tell me last week that this year, he decided to read the questions before answering. No lie. This was a whole new way of doing things for him.

    •  This is what they do in MA. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, ybruti, Catte Nappe

      You have to pass the MCAS if you want to graduate.

      I remember in 6th or 7th grade a group of us decided to write an essay on why the testing was a joke for our Science essay portion- this was the one that we didn't have to pass in order to move up.

      The testing is a joke.

      the people look like flowers at last.

      by ClapClapSnap on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:51:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wrote a similar essay for a state test (0+ / 0-)

        that teachers have to take, CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test). I always suspected that the readers smiled when they read it and agreed with it. I called it unfair because it had a very tricky reading section, and much too easy math. In other words, it was unfair to second language math teachers, for one thing. Also, the assumption that successful teachers had to be tested on their "basic skills" was just nonsense.

        The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

        by ybruti on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:13:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The CBEST was a piece of cake (0+ / 0-)

          however, there were a few people who complained (all were Americans) that the math portion was really hard and studied like crazy but still didn't pass the math portion had to retake the test.  One woman who complained was so mathematically challenged that even after the third time taking Algebra I she still could not understand the concept of "x"   I still don't understand how that is possible.

          The math in the test was quite easy that only required a basic knowledge of geometry and algebra in order to pass.  That's a "basic skill" a teacher should have in order to teach and quite honestly, otherwise they shouldn't be teaching.

          BTW the essay I wrote for the CBEST was the worst I ever written in answer to the dumbest test question ever.  I still passed.  My guess is you only had to show you had a basic concept of the written English language.

    •  High school is different. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, janislav

      Students do tend to take the tests more seriously in the graduation years. In my school district, students who've failed before are forced to take remedial classes they HATE so many do try to avoid that. But not enough. Middle schoolers just don't care because they get moved forward even if they fail the tests AND their classes. At least here they do.

    •  Taking it seriously these days (0+ / 0-)

      With all the constant emphasis on "the test" even younger kids take it seriously. Every time it's testing season our local media has various tips about how to keep kids from stressing out so much they can't think by the time test day rolls around. It's not uncommon for kids to not be able to sleep or eat, to throw up on test morning, etc.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:58:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that's what I don't get (0+ / 0-)

      If I’m approaching high school graduation and I need to pass the test to get a diploma, I have a personal incentive to take it seriously and perform well.

      Yet, if I’m in the 7th or 8th grade – what stake do I have in a standardized test? Anything? Can the tests be used to determine which high schools I can get into? That seems like a particularly perilous age to be putting kids through important tests. The kids aren’t so young that they will do something just to please adults and just old enough to start developing a don’t give a shit attitude.

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Wed May 15, 2013 at 12:05:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My experience with standardized testing (8+ / 0-)

    is a little bit different.  In my state, students must pass the high school level test as a requirement for graduation.  We put that ish up on a pedestal.  We spend the week before the test - and there are 3 of them - shutting everything down and cramming for the test.  We take minutes a day out of everybody's lesson to practice math skills.  We teach to the test.  We use writing prompts from past tests consistently to teach writing.  It's gotten to the point where even the people who developed the test think things are getting out of hand.  

    •  Sounds like my kids' schools (5+ / 0-)

      I've always heard the phrase "teach to the test" as a negative - an insult to teaching, yet there is a banner in the Teacher's Lounge with that very phrase printed on it! Teaching to the test is the official policy in my kids' schools and as a result I find myself playing the role of teacher at home making sure my kids learn what they should.

      I of course think all parents should play a major role in educating their kids, but I am teaching things that I believe should be part of the official curriculum, but are not because of the importance of preparing for these tests.

      Something is wrong when my third grade daughter vomits from the stress she feels over the importance of these tests. I'm grateful that this year's round of testing is over!

      •  Our schools aren't quite that bad...yet (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cynndara, janislav

        But my 5th grader (who knows exactly what the tests really mean) has friends who've been up nights, have lost patches of hair, vomit, melt down, and stress out over these tests. The night after the last test, his entire baseball team--and their opponents--were all dragging ass, making stupid mistakes, and generally fuzz-headed and our coach (who's a transplant from out of state) couldn't figure out why until someone explained to him the acronym for the state testing.

        Our PTO tries to make it fun--we buy gum and mints and water and snacks for the kids during test week, and on Friday after it's all done, we have Test Fest--where they get to blow off steam, have extended recess, and some in-class games.

        When my son was tiny, I considered homeschooling him because my crunchy-granola mom-circle had several parents who already homeschooled their older children. I realized I don't have the temperament to be my kids' teacher, principal, band director, lab TA, et al and their mom. And yet, I've clearly discovered that just because you don't homeschool doesn't mean your kids don't get homeschooled.

        How does the Republican Congress sit down with all the butthurt over taxing the wealthy?

        by athenap on Wed May 15, 2013 at 06:44:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a retired educator of 31 years - nearly all of (12+ / 0-)

    it in the public schools. I appreciate your comments and would like to respond to a few points you have made:

    First off, it's so easy to cheat.
    Yes it is, if there were any real or immediate consequence, but most standardized tests are used to evaluate the school more than the student. I saw a few students who made patterns on their answer sheet, but I saw many more trying to do the best job they could. We teachers typically told the students that standardized tests were what they would most likely be taking to get into college, and practice is good before the test that really matters. It is easy to cheat, but most of the students I monitored put in a solid effort.

    As for professionals modifying the answer sheets, there is no excuse. I acknowledge that this happens, but point out that it happens not to benefit the student so much as the school or district. In my district all tests and answer sheets were collected from students and were returned to the office within 10 minutes of the close of testing - and they called if you were late in delivery!

    I don't teach what's on the test.
    I can't comment on your curriculum, but in the area of science I can say that most test items I saw assessed basic science concepts that should be taught at about that grade level. The content of the test is determined either by the test development company or by the state if the test is a state-based assessment. For example, the ITED (Iowa Test of Educational Development) is developed by the test development company. State-based assessments are developed by test development companies based on standards and benchmarks developed by the state.  It is also important to know that states have the final up/down decision on every item that appears on that test. Test development companies facilitate state-mandated assessments at the pleasure of the state.
    I couldn't imagine teaching what's on the test.
    I think you might mean "I couldn't imagine teaching only what's on the test." I could most certainly agree with that, as standardized tests concentrate on essentials - at least in science and math. My curricula always explored many areas not present on the standardized tests I administered. We didn't care about that because we thought that a comprehensive curriculum would address everything likely to appear on the exam. (I would note that the so-called AP tests have a much greater influence on curriculum than standardized tests routinely given to all students.)
    Also, it is clear that many school districts/schools have chosen to "shrink" their curriculum to concentrate only on concepts identified by their state as those concepts that will be "on the test." There is, of course, no excuse for this as well, although it is clearly a common pattern in some states.

    Finally, I would again make clear that most standardized tests are given to meet a federal mandate. That assessment companies make a profit on those tests is true, but most of the growth in assessment companies occurred following and in response to NCLB. The politicians passed the law and the market adapted. If the law were repealed, the assessment industry would wither.

    Many of the points I have made will probably elicit negative responses, but I believe what I have related is a reasonable description of the situation.

    I will close by by noting that after 31 years in the classroom I entered the growing assessment industry for several years before retirement. At the level of test development, the folks who work with state departments of education to deliver assessments are among the most committed individuals I have worked with.

    Standardized tests are certainly imperfect. They do not measure the "total student." They should not determine the total curriculum. And they should not be used to evaluate schools or teachers like yourself.

    I think it is important to ask questions and important to discuss this facet of the educational world today. Your willingness to discuss this in your diary demonstrates that you care about education and about the experiences your kids have in your classes. Teaching today is a daunting task - chin up and keep up your good work. And thanks for this heart-felt diary.

    •  I'm perfectly willing to accept (10+ / 0-)

      that the standardized test I am administering is just poorly made.  It really is.  I am glad to hear other standardized tests aren't on this level.  Especially since they're state mandated.  

      I'm not against them per se, I just don't think that anyone should make the focus of the school year to do well on these tests.  I also don't think that a school's funding should dry up if the school does poorly on them.  

      I took IB tests with no complaint, and the whole school was geared for us to take all of them at the end of my senior year.  This is pretty much the reason why standardized testing doesn't necessarily irk me.  

      The cheating is terrible though, and it's hard to get a handle on it if you don't have professionals around who wouldn't stand up to that sort of thing.  

      I would think though, that school districts shrinking a curriculum to fit the needs of the mandated state test could spiral out of control if the administration became too scared that the kids won't know which circle to fill in if they're not pressured night and day to do directly as answered.  

      "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

      by sujigu on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:16:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Iowa tests for basic skills impressed me (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sawgrass727, Linda Wood, janislav

      My son recently had to take the Iowa series (ITBS), including the science modules.  Because kids in his current school only take the core modules, we had to give the whole series to to him at home as it was required for the magnet high school.  At any rate, I got to peek at the questions and they were quite good, testing a range of knowledge and critical thinking.  I like to see some hard questions, and there were quite a few.

      •  My daughter took the Iowa tests (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        janislav

        My daughter was in private school K-5 and the school didn't assign grades, just written teacher reports.   The school also provided the Iowa tests for 4th and 5th graders as an independent assessment of student knowledge and progress.  

        This year, she entered public schools and took Florida's FCAT for the first  time as a 6th grader.  She said it was boring and a lot easier than the Iowa tests.  In the Iowa tests, she did very well yet felt somewhat challenged.  In the FCAT tests, she finished them in less than half the time allocated and was very bored waiting for time to elapse.

        I don't know why but her teachers built up high expectations for the difficulty of the FCAT beforehand by giving students sample questions...from the FCAT 8th grade level.  

         

      •  I haven't seen the ITBS tests recently, but they (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cynndara

        are produced by the same testing company that makes the ITED test, which I always thought was a pretty well-done test. That company, Iowa Testing, has been around for a long time and is well-respected. The folks I know who work there are very professional.

        •  I remember taking the Iowa tests (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          janislav, cynndara

          and that was 30 years ago. :)

          How does the Republican Congress sit down with all the butthurt over taxing the wealthy?

          by athenap on Wed May 15, 2013 at 06:47:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I remember (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryduck, janislav

          the Iowa tests back in the 60's and 70's.  What I don't understand now is why they were given, as we were always told that the results weren't part of our grade.  The implicit message was that the score went somewhere on the mythical Permanent Record and affected what the teachers thought about your abilities, but it never had any direct results that you were allowed to know about.  And at that time the only results for school districts were bragging rights.  That was well before the politicization of basic public education.

          •  This makes the point that assessment has been (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rhauenstein

            around for a very long time and has some useful purposes. School districts and individual schools benefit from having routine assessments in science, math, and language arts as a ruler to judge year-to-year progress and as a means to evaluate the impact of curricular changes. Is the new math program meeting our goals? What are there year-to-year trends in reading comprehension?

            Standardized tests are norm-referenced, meaning they are carefully constructed to be of equal rigor from year to year, or they would not be able to be used for these comparisons.

            Because there was this potential for "bragging rights," scores for individual schools within a district were often not released to the public, or even to the teachers in the district.

            Where changing laws mandated release of the data, various folks often used that data to support their particular agendas or move their child to a higher-performing school.

  •  By the way I sensed that you expected (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    athenap

    negative feedback.  I'm not an ideologue, especially on this subject, because I feel being one would go against what I think education is supposed to be about.  

    "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

    by sujigu on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:49:39 PM PDT

  •  I've been teaching for about 16 years (5+ / 0-)

    I can't imagine how I could cheat--I have a 10 minute window from when students finish the tests to when I have to turn them in to the admin. They could cheat, I guess...It helps that I can report suspicious tests--those kids who draw patterns or finish in 10 minutes, e.g. We can strike a few from our overall rating.

    That said, the whole idea of basing funding on children who care not for these tests and maybe care little for the people who assign them homework smacks a bit of the inmates running the asylum. I don't mean to demean my students, but I do demean this funding formula. Seriously!

  •  My view is that high-stakes testing (7+ / 0-)

    is a deliberate attempt to ruin public education, one of our greatest treasures, in the selfish interests of the rich and of pseudo-Christian churches who hate truth and citizenship even more than they hate women, minorities, and other oppressed groups. Children who might grow up understanding reality are their worst nightmare, and one that is coming true at the rate of about 1% of the US population every year.

    I work in real education for millions of children around the world in the One Laptop Per Child program. I get to make presents for those millions of children every day in the form of Open Educational Resources.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:54:27 PM PDT

    •  that's not why they are doing it. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laurel in CA, ladybug53, cynndara, bryduck

      I think the social and ideological motivations are secondary to simple greed. Primary and secondary education is a $600,000,000,000 “industry” and for-profit business interests are pretty keen on diverting as much of that into their pockets as they can. Imagine a world where we have education contractors on the scale of defense contractors – that’s the goal.

      The funny thing is – the standardized tests are themselves a private sector foot in the door. The tests may be administered in the schools by school teachers, but the tests are created and graded by private sector companies and those companies get paid with the money collected through your state tax dollars or property tax levy.

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Wed May 15, 2013 at 12:24:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A test in college (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mommyof3, sawgrass727

    Back in the 1970's I was teaching a calculus I class at the University of Houston. For some reason the department decided to try a standardized test in this course. My students came out close to the national average.
    I had a script that seemed very canned to me. It reminded me of the tests I had in grade school, and at one point I had to resist laughing. "Put your pencils down."
    This test did not become a habit with the department. One colleague (another graduate student like me) belonged to the NEA and he was opposed to this test.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:11:29 PM PDT

  •  I really believe this is the key: (8+ / 0-)
    Well, the testing company does make a tidy profit there doesn't it?
    This whole focus on testing (while firing teachers) is the profit motive.  While I suspected this before, I was sure of it when I read about a student from my district  who was in the hospital in NYC, being prepped for brain surgery for his severe epilepsy, and was approached by a teacher from the City school district, who told him she was there to administer the 4th grade standardized test.  His shocked father, who was in the room, prevented his taking the test.  Neither the school district nor the parents had any advance warning or notice about this, the school had not shared the student's name or information about him with anyone.

    What possible excuse would there be to demand this of an ill child, strapped with tubes to a hospital bed?  What is the source of this misplaced mania for testing?  It was then I became convinced that somebody is making a profit from these tests, and that supersedes all other considerations.

    "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand." ~ Atticus Finch, "To Kill a Mockingbird"

    by SottoVoce on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:13:31 PM PDT

    •  Profit is so unreported (4+ / 0-)

      I had no idea how much the State of Florida was paying a vendor for FCAT tests until the vendor messed up a couple of years ago.  The figure was in the hundreds of millions, and no one even sniffed.

      Just checked and here are some figures.

      The billion dollar testing industry is notorious for making costly and time-consuming scoring errors. NCS Pearson, which has a $254 million contract to administer Florida's Comprehensive Assessment Test, delivered the 2010 results more than a month late and their accuracy was challenged by over half the state's superintendents.

      ...

      Following the passage of NCLB on Jan. 8, 2002, annual state spending on standardized tests rose from $423 million to almost $1.1 billion in 2008 (a 160% increase compared to a 19.22% increase in inflation over the same period), according to the Pew Center on the States.

      In the criticisms about testing, I am surprised that I never see any pushback on the costs and discussion how that money could allocated to better purposes.

      And never any reporting on whether there are compaign donation ties between the vendors and the politicians supporting the standardized testing industry.

      And that's just the monetary cost--there's also the inschool time costs of preparing for the test and taking the test.  If students weren't doing those activities, they would be learning.  

      There are huge profits--and costs--associated with testing but no one seems to want to talk abou them.

  •  Michelle Rhee (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, FloridaSNMOM, cynndara

    You most likely haven't absorbed the lessons Ms. Rhee taught us all, at least those of us lucky enough to have been students in or of her various tenures. It's not about cheating getting you a new car, is it? Fixing the system, in the sense of "the game is fixed" can get you on the cover of magazines and millions of dollars. What part of education don't you understand.

    I should change my sig line for this one to the notorious "some snark above."

    I'm from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

    by voicemail on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:53:09 PM PDT

  •  cheating is easy?? Regarding erasures these (0+ / 0-)

    are checked to see how many wrong erasures to right answers are given. Lots of districts have been caught by detecting this practice.

    •  but that strikes me as odd. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheDuckManCometh

      I have taken many multiple choice tests over the years.  If I erase and change, it is because I am correcting a mistake I have caught.

      To find this suspicious, is to assume corrections should be random.

      Sometimes, I have found that several consecutive Answers have been marked in the wrong place, and then I have to change some or all.

      in some cases, it is wise to check all answers randomly and then correct them since a blank has a smaller value than a guess.  An eraser is a scholarly tool.

    •  Wt if you erase cleanly? (0+ / 0-)

      Is somebody going to examein each bubble under a microscope? There has been numerous instances of cheating which have been caught, but most of these were caught by extraoridnary efforts by hournalists or academics. They were not caught by whatever routine safeguards were there.

  •  I had a job grading these tests. (8+ / 0-)

    Back in 2003, I had a temp job grading these tests. I graded writing tests and reading comprehension tests. I became very good at reading nearly indecipherable text. It was sort of like doing cryptograms. Some of them you wouldn't have known it was supposed to be writing.

    Some of the people grading the tests couldn't look past the horrible penmanship. On the reading comprehension tests, writing skills wasn't part of the criteria, if they put down the correct information, they got the points. Even on the writing test, penmanship was only part of the score.

    On the writing tests, the students were asked to write a short story. Quite a lot of them, perhaps a quarter of them, began something like "One day, when I was in class studying for the standardized test..." There seem to be a number of schools that dedicate a significant amount of time to teaching to the test.

    Some of the writing was quite good, but because they didn't follow the rules, I had no choice but to give a low score. I remember one test that asked students to write about a bird flying in the window. Some students ignored this, and wrote their own story. It was a shame I had to give a low grade to a some good stories, and was a shame they test restricted students' creativity.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:15:03 PM PDT

  •  Learning Disabled Students qualify for placement (3+ / 0-)

    if they are two years behind in classwork and show other serious learning difficulties.  The "special" help they get is a resource teacher or her aide helping the student in their homeroom with one assignment a day for 15 minutes. Standardized Testing expectations are the same for the LD student as for any other student of that grade level.  Teacher's salaries are then determined in Indiana by the test scores of all students in a class on the Standardized Test.  Does this invite a situation where cheating may be tempting? You bet'cha!  

  •  The most disturbing part of multiple choice tests (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pdxteacher, FloridaSNMOM

    is how they were used during medical school.

    MEDICAL SCHOOL!

    I took a Final Exam in "Psychophysics and Sensory Physiology" in College with several blank pages. At the top of the first page the question was: "Describe the path of a photon from it's source through the lens of they eye till it is interpreted at the visual cortex of the brain using all of the concepts we've learned."

    I knew that stuff before that test.

    Medical school? We studied for the multiple choice questions. There was a guy I studied with who was a Dental/Medical student (and maybe a genius) who had derived a system regarding the probability that changing an answer when you weren't sure was more likely to result in a correct answer than keeping it.

    It depended on how many of the alternative answers you had ruled out. Something like, "if two are definitely wrong, change it, if you've got three definitely wrong, don't."

    I still don't understand what he was talking about, but why should he have been spending his mental energy on such test taking garbage when he was en route to becoming a maxillo-facial surgeon?

    Answer:
    None of the above.

    Can we make that the slogan against standardized tests?

    "NONE OF THE ABOVE."

    "Jersey_Boy" was taken.

    by New Jersey Boy on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:15:29 PM PDT

  •  You saw the questions? (0+ / 0-)

    In my state, teachers can't read the test or talk about the answers/questions/passages even after (students can't tell us or each other anything about the test specifically). Except for the sample tests, which aren't real, no one even SEES and EVALUATES the real test. (Sometimes when tests are retired they're seen and evaluated and questions are proven to be faulty or correct answers plain wrong. So now past tests haven't been released in awhile.)

    To me, that's the biggest problem. We test the kids but no one tests the tests.

  •  The ease of cheating is highly disturbing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco, janislav

    Which state is this? The fact that you could have so easily cheated, means that somebody somewhere in your state is probably cheating. This makes the tests worse than worthless. A lot of states and school districts shuffle the teachers to different schools during testing day, in order to stop cheating.  The fact that your state allows you to supervise your own students during standardized tests, is highly problematic.

    •  At my old school (0+ / 0-)

      we administered the tests in homeroom, and teachers and other staff who weren't assigned homerooms, and adult classroom aides, were assigned proctoring duties in someone's homeroom, so all classes had at least two people proctoring the test. That might have reduced the opportunity to cheat somewhat.

      In later years, as we lost counselors, aides and other staff, the administration decided to simply provide a "roving" proctor on each floor, tasked mainly with giving teachers bathroom breaks as needed during the test. Other than that, they generally stayed out of the rooms where the tests were being administered.

      The NCLB required tests were turned in each day after school, so teachers didn't have a lot of time to mess with them, unless they picked up the materials early in the morning and got them to their room before students arrived. Since the tests were administered over several days, it would be possible to use that time (up to an hour or so) to "fix" answers on all but the last test segment. The materials also stayed on school site until the district sent someone round to pick them up at the end of the mandated "testing window" (that range of dates during which the test had to take place) stored in some secure room in the main building. This 'secure' room was frequently the grade level counselors' offices.

      Our district mandated 'practice' exams all included an open ended question in addition to the multiple choice bubble in questions, to be graded by the teacher. We kept these tests until the end of the week, by which time we had to have them graded and turned into the main office. Not only that, we were expected to bubble in the open ended question grade on the student answer sheet, so all teachers were required to sit at a table with the each student's answer sheet in front of them, pencil and eraser in hand!

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:46:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When I was a child (0+ / 0-)

    I enjoyed standardized tests.  First of all, any multiple-choice test is easy, and so an easy way to feel good about yourself.  You can usually eliminate 2 out of 5 answers just by logic without knowing anything about the subject matter (I once came into a school system in late April, switching from 18th century Virginia History to 19th century American History at that point.  I got a "C" on the final exam in 19th c American History without having read anything but the final chapter of the book.)  So I always did well on them and received lots of undeserved ego-fluffing from teachers, but I knew better than to think that it really meant anything.

    As a young adult right after college, I lived with my witch-mother, who had attended a high school for the emotionally-disturbed.  She told me that when she and her friends took the standardized tests, she filled in whatever little dots would create the picture she felt like that day.  Dinosaurs were her favorite.  In our day standardized tests weren't a subject of politicization, and the results meant nothing to individual students except for the SATs.  Still, it did seem like a terrible waste of time if that was what ordinary students were doing with them instead of even trying to get the answers right.

    •  Call me a contrarian, but I find your mother's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cynndara

      story (and a couple others in this thread) oddly endearing and a testimony to human freedom and the limits of the machine to control it.

      There have been many studies over the years that demonstrate pretty conclusively that standardized tests don't test what we think they test and that they say as much or more about the test-maker (and his or her society) as they do about the test-taker that your mother's artistic resistance to them moves me beyond measure.

      But then I never fell captive to the testing mania that seems to have captured the discourse in education starting in about 1980.

  •  If you'd like to read a well-written (0+ / 0-)

    critique of the whole racket behind standardized testing of all stripes, you could do worse than a book titled None of the Above: Behind the Myth of Scholastic Aptitude (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985).

    Although 30 years have passed since its publication, I'm pretty sure the villains and scoundrels Owen fingers have only grown more entrenched in this so-called era of education accountability.

    IIRC, Owen completely demolishes ETS' raison d'etre, proving that its tests are easily coached, hence virtually meaningless as measures of anything worth measuring.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site