Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are standardized tests worth the price?

The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don't Tell You What You Think They DoI am reading The Myths of Standardized Tests and it just asked me:

Ask yourself if what we're learning from our assessment system is worth the price.

I'll be blunt...

I would rather no information - no data - nothing! than the grossly misleading and misused data that is extracted from standardized testing.

There is absolutely nothing I can extract from standardized testing that I can't find out better on my own.



  1. There is a package of grade 5 math tests sitting on my desk right now. I have to administer the two-part test tomorrow and next week. I could mark the results myself if I wanted a timely evaluation of the results, otherwise the package will be mailed off to the Ministry of Education. Some time next year the results will come back to me. A snapshot of how well my former students did on a a single day. With luck, this six-month old data will find its way to the various classrooms my students have migrated to.

    The real "value" is the thoughtful analysis I am supposed to do. I am to learn where I need to adjust my instruction for the next group of students in my classroom. The test is supposed to help me identify a trend in my teaching that I have clearly not noticed over a series of years. "Oh! I don't teach fractions very well!" Naturally, the results of my last class both reflect the year's learning and predict the group of young people coming into my room in September (okay, August, but let's not dwell on that!).

    The test is strong in as much as it is Provincially developed and correlates to our Western Canada Protocol. I honestly don't think it contributes significantly to my understanding of my students. I have other more reliable assessment data. Its real purpose is to help the Ministry understand where mathematics learning at grade five is in this province. They don't trust my data. They fervently believe learning can be standardized.

  2. The really sad part to the strong push for standardized testing is that none of it is about the kids. When you can subject an eight or nine year child to four or more hours of standardized testing, it can't possibly be about the child. Standardized testing in its current form is all about adults. It's about politicians and policy makers who want to label teachers as passing and failing, in spite of testing's imperfection. It's also an opportunity for companies and corporations to get their hands on already scarce education funds.

  3. I think both of you are on to something. There is something tragically wrong with a system that utilizes a tool such as standardized testing that victimizes the very cliental that it claims to serve.


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