Debate: Should test scores or grades hold more weight?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    What do you think should hold more weight when determining the ability and understanding of a student: standardized test scores or teacher-assigned grades?

    If you think about it, we generally assess understanding through tests because they're isolated assessments where a student has to rely on their own understanding and memory to accomplish tasks, where as grades are usually made for work where the student has just learned the material or has the material in front of them. In addition, the standards by which teachers assign grades often vary greatly.

    However, students can cram for certain tests, and retain very little of it after the test, so it's not always a true measure of understanding. There's also the argument that a student may just be a poor test taker or happened to be off their game on the day of the standardized test, (though I hear that excuse being made for a lot more students than is probably the case).

    We can gauge growth of knowledge through a holistic view of a student over the course of the year that we have them, but how do we know that they have retained any of the information that they learned?

    So what do you think?
     
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  3. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    Grades. I know too many kids who intentionally blow standardized tests because they see no personal value in them. Both my boys refuse to try on them. One fellow student way back in the 80s sat next to me and used the bubble paper to draw the most amazing seasons....by only filling in bubbles.
     
  4. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    My tests are not something they can really cram for. They are essay tests that require deep analysis of our novels. They may be able to cram information about the novel but the writing and analysis skills are something that they either have or don't have.

    I think both should carry some weight to them.
     
  5. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Your tests are (probably) not standardized tests; they sound like they are teacher (or school) created. I think the OP means standardized assessments that are state (or district) created.

    I think this distinction is important because I do think there is value in exams and standardized tests given to all of the kids in the district (or in the state) so that comparisons can be made. IMO, comparisons are important.
     
  6. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    This may be unique to where I teach, but I have never seen a kid cram for the state standardized test - not like they may do for the SAT/ACT. We do a lot of test prep before the state assessments, but I would NOT call it the student cramming per se.

    I think grades should hold more weight than STANDARDIZED TESTS since there is usually only one official standardized test given each year (yes, that test may have multiple parts). Now, if we are talking about tests given by the teacher in class; most teachers give at least one test per quarter and many give more. Overtime, these types of tests are more reflective of what the student knows so they should be given some weight/consideration. Once again though, these are not standardized tests which I see as high-stakes.
     
  7. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    It depends on the age, and it depends on the test. At the elementary level, I'd argue that standardized tests should not even exist. At the high school level, I think they have a role to play, but I'd ultimately take a teacher's opinion over that of a single test.
     
  8. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Our standardized tests ARE performance task assessments so students have to know how to apply in-class learning to the assessed task. They can't cram and I guess these are still our CCSS aligned standardized assessments. Does anyone know what, exactly, a standardized test is? I'm not sure... Does it have to be a bubble in test?
     
  9. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I'm having a little trouble understanding the question, actually.

    Which should have "more weight" depends on the purpose you have in trying to assess understanding and the circumstances.

    If you have detailed interactions with a student on a daily basis as their teacher and you're trying to make a recommendation for future placement, I would say neither: your own judgement should prevail as it's more detailed. You'll know if a student just isn't a good test-taker, or if a student just moved from a foreign country and thus has a lower grade-point average because grades were assigned while they were learning English.

    If you're a college admissions counselor, standardized tests become an objective measure to compare large numbers of students from different schools, and so are necessary. They hold weight in initial filtration but probably not as much after that.

    Also, I'm not sure that cramming is an accurate way to describe the preparation for non-subject standardized tests like the general SAT. The general SAT actually has fairly little real subject material, so it's not as though one needs to jam a bunch of facts into memory. Maybe some of the state assessments are different.
     
  10. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    The Glossary of Education Reform has a thorough description (it's way more than a definition) of standardized tests, including discussions of reasons for and against their use.

    A bubble sheet is not required; however, the questions must be "scored in a 'standard' or consistent manner."
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I don't really have a clear cut answer on this question. I would vote against standardized tests because of all the factors that go into a student taking that test on one particular day. Grades are a reflection of what that student has done throughout the entire school year; however, grades can be inflated and can be more subjective that standardized tests. I know that in my daughter's district they do have common assessments at the end of each 6 weeks to gauge student understanding of material learned over the previous grading periods. But the teachers do know the students better than a test does. And I know many high school students who didn't bother even trying on their standardized tests so you can't get an accurate picture there too...and these were smart students.
     
  12. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Everything we do is related to the standards. I give the heaviest weight (2) to research projects and the lightest (.25) to weekly independent reading checks.
     
  13. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    The writing and reading tests are very similar to how I create my tests. None of them can be crammed for though in the same way that I used to do for an anatomy test.
     
  14. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

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    Ideally, neither should "weigh" down a student (see what I did there?). Learning, and the opportunity to learn, should be free and easy. If performance and ability must be assessed, it is more fair and accurate to do so with written comments, and a review of the actual work that has been done... rather than a number or a letter.

    If I must choose in the current paradigm, I'd say grades, because at least they have a better (yet still poor) ability to represent a student.
     

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