Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Test Fail

I came across two articles this morning with "test" and "fail" in the title. They're both worth a look.

"Failed tests" at The University of Chicago Magazine. Quote:
Neal, a professor in economics and the Committee on Education, insists it’s a “logical impossibility” that standardized tests, as they’re most often administered, could assess both teachers and students without compromising teacher integrity, student learning, or both. “The idea is that we want faculty held accountable for what students learn, so the tool that we use to measure what students learn is the tool that we should use to hold faculty accountable,” Neal says. “It’s all rhetorically very pleasing, but it has nothing to do with the economics of how you design incentive systems.”
Next is "Standardized Tests That Fail" in Inside HigherEd this morning. Quote:
“We find that placement tests do not yield strong predictions of how students will perform in college,” the researchers wrote. “In contrast, high school GPAs are useful for predicting many aspects of students’ college performance.”  
You may want to contrast that with another article by a test score true believer (my term). This one has stuck in my craw for a long time it's so bad, but I'll say no more about it. Anyone with basic critical thinking skills can figure out what's wrong with it. "'Academically Adrift': The News Gets Worse and Worse" in The Chronicle. I can't disagree with the conclusion of the article, however, so I'll quote that:
For those who are dissatisfied with the methods or findings of Academically Adrift, who chafe at the way it has been absorbed by the politicians and commentariat, there is only one recourse: Get started on research of your own. Higher education needs a much broader examination of how and whether it succeeds in educating students. Some of that research will doubtless become fodder for reckless criticism. But there's no turning back now.
[Update 3/1/2012] Here's one more: "The True Story of Pascale Mauclair" in EdWize. It's a horror story about the abuses of publishing standardized test results that are used to rate public school teachers. The bold in the quote is mine.
On Friday evening, New York Post reporters appeared at the door of the father of Pascale Mauclair, a sixth grade teacher at P.S. 11, the Kathryn Phelan School, which is located in the Woodside section of Queens. They told Mauclair’s father that his daughter was one of the worst teachers in New York City, based solely on the [Teacher Data Results] reports, and that they were looking to interview her.

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