Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Doubting Thomas

At H's suggestion, I'm reading Rafe Esquith on standardized testing.

Students have become so burnt-out taking the tests that they no longer care how well they score on them.

TFA Trenches has a great post on how these tests don't always reflect what we know students know.

Perceptive as always, C--- recognized that he had missed a slew of problems not because he didn’t understand the concept but because he didn’t know “the words,” the specific language of the specific questions of this test.

My housemate points out how the "real-life" situations in essays and word-problems are a different world from our life on the reservation.

How's this for a classic example of tests written to favor middle class suburban students:

"The city council is considering an ordinance banning cycling on all sidewalks. Consider the effects such an ordinance would have, and decide whether you support or oppose the measure. Then, write an essay in which you express and support your opinion on the issue."

What??? Some of my students have probably never SEEN a sidewalk! And kids around here do not have/ride bikes.

I love data. Statistics is fun for me. In many ways it is why I'm teaching math. I know enough about data collection and survey design to know that the data's only as meaningful as the questionnaire it comes from. The more I look at these tests, the less I trust our collection method.

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