"Bad test taker"

Discussion in 'General Education' started by 2ndTimeAround, Nov 17, 2018.

  1. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Companion

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    I can speak to all of this. I started my teaching career in NY and went to take the teaching exams--I had no teaching experience, and had just started my ed credits/grad school. Passed all tests with flying colors, and I remember so many teachers as we were waiting in line saying "This is my 4th or 5th time" I was worried going into the math, because I didn't remember any math, but most of it, you could plug in the answers from the m.c. and get the right answer. This was back in 2000. I eventually went on to take all the Praxis I and Praxis II exams that I needed, since I was planning on leaving NY, and passed most of them with Honors. I also recently passed the Praxis II in History, even though I don't have a history degree, nor have I taught history, and I passed it with no problems. People in the room looked at me strangely when I walked out of the room before the time was up.

    I also see it in my classroom. I teach AP and Dual Enrollment, and while my kids are all really nice kids, many of them are not AP or Dual Enrollment students. Especially with the AP, guidance puts them into the class because they are good kids--but they fail miserably. And with the DE kids, many are capable, but they don't want to put in the work necessary.
     
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  2. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    You are a breath of fresh air. I wish I could shake your hand, lol!

    Keep up the good work.
     
  3. futuremathsprof

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    Speaking about teaching certification exams, I also heard other prospective teacher’s grumbling about the difficulty of the tests and when I opened the exam booklet on the CBEST I just stared at the questions for several moments. I actually raised my hand and asked the proctor if I received the correct test because the questions were on par with what you would see in elementary school. I mean, there was a question where they had you identify an adverb in the sentence. Another question had you select the shape that was not polygon and I was like :eek:. It was an insult to my intelligence, and I kid you not, there were people who had taken it over a dozen times. I feel bad for saying this, but when I overheard them talking before the test I burst out laughing (relatively quietly) and had to leave the room. It was beyond ridiculous.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
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  4. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    .
     
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  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Chicken - egg.
     
  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Nov 24, 2018

    Could you clarify this comment? I don’t understand what you mean.
     
  7. Bibliophile

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    Nov 24, 2018

    I have thought of this for those who claim that their test taking ability is whats holding them back.

    I have know people who have claimed to be on 4th 5th and 6th attempts for CSET and RICA. When I was in school I let this become a Goliath in my mind standing between me and getting my credential. I was in SpEd in school and I got accommodations through college. I have genuine learning disabilities on top of having serious test anxiety. I decided to go into my tests with the mindset that I would likely fail. I passed all of them on the first try. I was so nervous about RICA that I had to take 3 breaks during the exam to be sick-and you dont get extra time back just because you had to waste some of it leaving the secure testing room, be sick, come back and be searched for contraband and resign in again. I was so sure that I would fail that I didnt even want to be the one who opened my testing results attachment. Again I passed it the first time.

    Since then I cant help but feel like, if I could pass, everyone who isnt dealing with some of my challenges should be able to pass too. I didnt even file to accommodations for the tests either since it was made to sound like they almost never grant them. If I can pass on my first try, people arent blowing it because they are bad test takers, they are blowing it because they dont know the material.
     
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  8. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Nov 24, 2018

    What came first, the chicken or the egg?

    What came first, the scripted curriculum or the un-knowledgeable teachers?
     
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  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Hahaha! Love it!
     
  10. futuremathsprof

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    You should be PROUD of yourself. Despite your learning difference, you managed to do very well. Great job!

    And I totally agree with your last sentence. #Truth
     
  11. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Not everyone has your IQ. There are many people without disabilities who are not intelligent enough to pass the tests.

    But I do admire your perseverance. Having to test under such conditions is difficult.
     
  12. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Your second sentence is incontrovertibly correct.
     
  13. Leaborb192

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    .
     
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  14. a2z

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    We agree on a lot about this topic. Thanks for the reply.
     
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  15. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    .
     
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  16. gr3teacher

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    Teaching gifted and advanced learners, I'll tell you that bright kids being unable to test well is absolutely a real thing.
     
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  17. futuremathsprof

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    Nov 26, 2018

    Once again, you speak the truth, my man.
     
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  18. futuremathsprof

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    Nov 26, 2018

    It is, indeed, but you can chalk it up to their overthinking the problems because they convince themselves that they’re “trick questions” or somehow “more work is involved” or it “can’t be that easy”. But it is more than likely that the applicants don’t know the subject matter well enough. There is a much greater probability of that than gifted and advanced learners not testing well. I mean, just look at any IQ curve. There are fewer gifted individuals in the population than the number of people who fit in the average and below average ranges collectively.
     
  19. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    .
     
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  20. 2ndTimeAround

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    Absolutely. I teach gifted and advanced learners too. Just because someone CAN learn something doesn't mean they've done what they need to do to learn and understand it.

    And sometimes a drive for perfection can cause anxiety which will interfere with test-taking. But that would be the same for any high-stakes assessment that requires mastery instead of simply completion.
     
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  21. Teacher234

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    I, very much so, feel that there is a such thing as a poor test taker. I teach students who have significant difficulty with tests and quizzes, when I know they understood the skills/concept on the classwork and homework assignments. I do grade for accuracy and do go over all assignments with my students individually. I am actually against multiple-choice questions, but still give them because of curriculum requirements. I am 100% on board with giving essay questions as test grades.
    I have seen students fail tests and quizzes, simply due to the fact that the assessment was all multiple choice.
     
  22. Teacher234

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    I would do extremely well in that school. I would never get a B. (I would always recieve a low 90.)
     
  23. Teacher234

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    I do understand your point, however, I prefer to give my students a performance-based assessment for most skills/concepts. This, of course, would be in addition to the written assessments. However, it offsets their subject grade.
     
  24. 2ndTimeAround

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    Please explain to me why a multiple choice test would make it more difficult for a student? I write about half of my multiple choice questions, with some being VERY easy and some being challenging. A well-written multiple choice question can often tell me more about a student's understanding than a single short response question. If I were to cover the same material in essay questions I would probably have to grade ten essays per student which could never happen.
     
  25. futuremathsprof

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    The SAT Reasoning Test, MCAT, GRE, various teacher certification tests, etc., etc., are sufficient measures of gauging adult student performance, yet well-written multiple choice tests for younger students these days aren’t “accurate” measures of doing so.

    Does that make sense to you?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  26. futuremathsprof

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    I think a mixture of both is a better teaching practice as you said. Be that as it may, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a bad test taker. I think it all boils down to whether or not a student actually knows the material well enough. For instance, I’ve personally tutored well over a thousand students in the decade that I’ve been tutoring and the majority of my clients tell me that they are bad test takers when we initially meet.

    However, after one or multiple sessions with me, the students are able to do their homework on their own, they participate more in class because they have their knowledge gaps filled in, and they do better on formal assessments. In fact, the students are very oftentimes shocked that they pulled off an A or B when they weren’t able to before. When they proudly show me their grades I always exclaim, “Great job, but I thought you were a bad test taker?! How is this possible?!”

    I have personally witnessed this with my own students, too, because I have some of them think out loud to hear their reasoning and they will reference something they *think* we learned about or make up something on the fly and go with it. I’m not joking, I’ve seen students write things like this: 3^2 + 4^2 = 7^2, or cancel trig functions because they treat them like coefficients. And then, when I try to gently explain why they got it wrong they try to argue with me — as if they somehow know better than I do — and that that was what their prior teachers taught them.

    Students who struggle, by and large, are misinformed, have several knowledge gaps, and just think they can wing it and pass with minimal effort. They really have no idea what they’re doing.

    When I initially meet with a student, I always give them a diagnostic test to see which areas they need help with most depending on the subject. Sadly, I’ve had students get 0% correct and respond by saying they are bad test takers and I gently break the news that they don’t know anything and tests are designed to see what you know. So if you don’t pass then you don’t know what you are being tested on.

    With clarification, my diagnostic tests start off easy and get progressively more difficult. For example, question 1 might ask the student to simplify “7 + (-5)” and “7 + abs(-5)” and the student will write “12” and “2,” respectively. Continuing in that same vein, said student will say 999^0 = 0, that the product of two even numbers is BOTH even and odd, and that vertical lines are parallel to perpendicular lines. My favorite is when they say things like: “13 is *sometimes* equal to 7.” (Inside my head, I’m thinking: “Is 13 EVER equal to 7?! Really?”) The list goes on and on.

    While this is transpiring, I require that the student speak out loud so that both the parent(s)/guardian(s) and I can see the flaws in the student’s logic. (I also don’t help them at all because I have found that their actual teachers will steer them every time toward the correct answers and then say they know it, but they helped the entire way through.) I also make sure to nip the idea in the butt that the student is a bad test taker when it’s really the student not knowing the material like they actually should.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
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  27. Lei286

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    Well to play devil's advocate for a second, my sister-in-law is a bad test taker and has been her entire life. She has her doctorate degree so she is not underachieving. She had to see private tutors regularly while in college and even went as far as to consult a neurologist about this problem. She knew the material, but she would choke on the written test EVERY TIME for her certification. She's hoping to take her certification exam for her degree again soon.

    To you're point, I would tell the parents exactly that- if they could get a child neurologist or another type of children's specialist to sign off that there was a legit problem then you could do more to assist their student. Or they could seek a school evaluation from the Special Ed team. Otherwise, standard assessments are going to have to be used.
     
  28. a2z

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    There are people who don't work as quickly who know all of the material. Time limits on many standardized tests can make someone a bad test taker. Couple that with the same person dealing with anxiety, it makes it worse because the more anxious the slower they go. They could have a superior grasp on the concepts, content, and application of the material but just not be a quick processor or quick to recall the information. These people are often "bad test takers".

    The other type of "bad test taker" tends to be those with a good grasp of language and can pinpoint poorly worded questions that either aren't specific enough or have misleading word choices. For example, a question that used the word peruse with multiple choice answers that included inspecting closely and another that included briefly glancing would throw a person off because the word peruse now can mean opposite definitions because "language changes" has been a poor excuse for allowing inaccurate words being used. We could argue that it is not the test taker that is the problem, but the majority of the population would go in instinct which would now be to choose the answer that said to glance over because this inaccurate definition of the word is now more commonplace.

    The last type of "bad test taker" is a person who may be able to answer the question without having options to choose from but get very confused when they read possible answers and second guess themselves. For me, spelling was always easier when I didn't have to see the word. On tests where multiple spellings were given and I had to pick the right one, I was done for. I would have a mass of letters going around in my head and to have my memory break away from the chaos was difficult. To reset my brain to be able to say the word in my head and spell it correctly could be next to impossible. The short term memory would supersede what was in long term.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
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  29. futuremathsprof

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    I would agree to a certain extent, but these are exceptions rather than the general rule. I’m sure that are a small minority of the student population have physiological reasons for why they don’t perform well on tests. That doesn’t make them bad test takers, it means they have a biological or psychological limitation that is hindering their success. The majority of students, on the other hand, don’t have diagnosable problems (neurological or psychological), just don’t try, and then get frustrated when they can’t pass. As such, it should should come as no surprise why they can’t pass when they barely do anything in the first place!

    I think far too many teachers look for the exceptions to explain why students can’t achieve instead of relying on statistical and empirical trends to determine why students are underperforming. As aforementioned, I’ve tutored well over 1000 students (elementary, middle, high, and collegiate) from all over Northern and Central California (who come from working class, middle class, and upper class families) of different races and creeds. As a consequence, my sample size is not only representative, but sufficiently large enough to minimize chance variation to enable me to make inferences about the population of California students. Based on the sample, I’ve determined that the vast majority of students didn’t master material that they should have in lower grades, they have lousy work ethics, and much more than a simple majority of constantly whine about having to take notes, do homework, and study. They try everything they can to do the least amount of work possible.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  30. a2z

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    Well, yes, they are not the majority or even a small minority, but they do exist. You said you don't believe they exist. I showed examples to refute your absolute. Now you want to shut me down by using your canned "they are exceptions" argument. Maybe you shouldn't be using absolutes.

    Also, saying that someone who has a neurological or psychological issue that impedes their ability to take tests as not a category that can qualify as "bad test taker" is a bit illogical.

    I absolutely agree that the majority who say they are bad test takers just don't know the material. I stated that before. But there are "bad test takers".
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  31. futuremathsprof

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    Nice try, but saying “I don’t believe” is not an absolute. I then gave reasons for why I think that way.

    If a secular person said I don’t believe that a god exists, that isn’t the same thing as saying a god does not exist. Do you see the difference?

    And you’re canned response is to say essentially this: “Well, what about students who are poor, and/or disabled, and/or who don’t have supportive parents?”

    Try entering character strings of your choosing into any internet search engine using the conjunctions “and” or “or” and see which ones come up with more search results.

    I guess my canned response is to use representative statistics to formulate my arguments, rather than just focus on minorities of the entire student population. If that is wrong, then you got me, I guess.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  32. a2z

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    Oh, so there are bad test takers. Thanks for clarifying.

    Unlike your God comparison, there is proof that psychology and neurological conditions can impede test taking ability beyond just not knowing the material making the person's ability to take test substandard (bad). So, if you don't believe "bad test takers" exist, you refute the provable truth. That is illogical unlike your reference to an un-provable concept.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  33. futuremathsprof

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    What is this, non-sequitur hour?

    Going back to my previous example, does a secular person saying they don’t believe a god exists prove that a god exists? Yes or no.
     
  34. a2z

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    Deflection, on the part of future
     
  35. futuremathsprof

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    Nice deflection on your part. I didn’t deflect. You still have yet to answer my question in my previous post which refutes your claim. I’m merely trying to get you to see the flaw in your argument. You haven’t won this one, but try again.

    I’ll try again: Does a secular person saying that they don’t believe a god exists prove that a god exists?

    Similarly, does my saying that I don’t believe that a bad test taker exists prove that a bad test taker exists?
     
  36. futuremathsprof

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    Proving a god exists is provable. If said deity appeared before the human race and presented itself such that we could document it and interact with it, would it not prove it’s existence? That would lay the coffin to rest, in a manner of speaking.

    Your saying I’m refuting provable truth is not accurate. Essentially, I’m saying that students with physical, physiological, and/or psychological conditions are not bad test takers anymore than someone without limbs should be classified as a bad runner.

    Should I also say someone with Slow Processing Disorder is feebleminded, then, because they can’t think as quickly as a normative person can?
     
  37. a2z

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    Jeepers! It is exactly what it means. Are you trying to say it depends on what the definition of "is" is? You know Clinton's trying to redefine "is". You are trying to redefine "bad test taker".

    I don't need to do anything. You admitted that there are people who are bad test takers but then tried to claim that they aren't bad test takers because you decided that neurological impairments and psychological impairments that hinder performance doesn't fit under the description of bad test takers even though the impairment makes them take test badly.
     
  38. a2z

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    Well, yes, if that person couldn't adapt so they could be a good runner, that person would be a bad runner. It is irrelevant that they have a disability hindering the performance of running. Just as a person with horrendous vision that can't be corrected to be able to see well sees poorly.

    I see now you are using the term "should". Yes. They should be classified as a bad runner if they can't run well. Just as someone with an impediment to taking tests well should be classified as a bad test taker because it is the truth.
     
  39. futuremathsprof

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    I think the crux of the problem to your argument is that I’ve been stating that I don’t believe that students are innately “bad test takers” because of a disability, whereas you are. Given the proper accommodations, the students with the learning or physical differences could do very well on formal assessments. They would make it equitable and “level the playing field” by allowing students to work in an environment free from distractions where they can focus, where they don’t have to worry about not finishing on time, and where they can think the problems through at their own processing speed.

    Going back to your vision scenario, the key word here is “corrected”. Accommodations “correct” for fundamental differences amongst students (like how accounting for lurking variables can minimize bias and prevent the skewing of the final results in an experimental study) so that the aforementioned students can perform as well as their peers. Under said conditions, the students are no longer “bad test takers,” as you put it. And logically, they can’t be both good and bad test takers, generally speaking, as that would be contradictory.

    Just like my tutoring clients who do well on their quizzes and tests after receiving one-on-one or small-group instruction aren’t bad test takers. They were just poor students beforehand and now they are equipped with test-taking strategies and an improved work ethic.

    The only scenario where I could see a student being a “bad” test taker would their failing after receiving numerous accommodations, and/or tutoring, personalized instruction best suited for their learning style, and many other resources to help them succeed. That is, they do poorly even after multiple avenues have been exhausted. Then, and only then, would I concede that they are as you say they supposedly are.

    I’ve worked with many students who are mentally delayed and managed to get them to pass with C’s and B’s and A’s when before they got D’s and F’s. I was able to accomplish this because I first observed how they best learned and then modeled my tutoring sessions accordingly. I do the same thing with my students at my teaching job (and that is why I tutor every single one of my lunches and every day after school because I’m always there for my students).

    In short, I think it just takes more time with certain individuals, which goes back to what I said earlier about students receiving accommodations and the right resources and how I believe that all students have the capacity to learn. They just require more work as they initially didn’t want to put forth the effort and so I take it upon myself to disavow them of that belief.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018

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