When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Irishdave, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids
    In my 35 years of teaching I proctored many tests. In the "old days" we were allowed to see the test before the test day, I would take the test myself just so I could help any student without giving the method of solving or the answer away, since you could help the student on reading or definition of words (not on the tests vocabulary). Now we can't even read the test question when a student asks a question (again not on vocabulary or method of solving).
    The conspiracy theory part of me thinks the test making companies do not want teachers to discover how the tests are not doing "the job!"


    The complete list of problems with high-stakes standardized tests
    ",... a few became teachers. Without exception, those who talked to me at the reunion had no regrets. But also without exception, none of them would now encourage anyone to enter the field. Reason Number One: Standardized, machine-scored, high-stakes tests."​

    Both are by Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.

    These are interesting Blogs/articles, give it a read and comment, please.
     
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  3. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    I haven't read the article yet, but I agree....anyone I know who wants to be a teacher, I tell them to go into something else.

    Teaching is different than it was 25 years ago when I started. There's not as much respect for the profession, and then there's the testing issue.........
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Wait a minute. The article either states or implies that the school board member took the tenth grade test without any preparation. These tests aren't given cold: they're given to students who have been in classrooms in which the material has presumably been covered. Therefore all that can properly be inferred from this story is that the board member doesn't remember material he hasn't reviewed since tenth grade. Any other inference will serve only to encourage those who would like to argue that his less than stellar performance now reflects directly on the shortcomings of his teachers.
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    How did the board member get a copy of the test...seems like some impropriety here.

    Also, seems a bit of a biased article, starting with the title. I give many kinds of assessments to my students. By teaching my students to be critical readers and thinkers, developing their writing skills, and providing meaningful math instruction, I am getting my kids ready for "the test" all year...its not an issue of 'force'.
     
  6. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    [​IMG]
    Just to be the devil's advocate why should there be any test preparation, if they are supposed to be tests of "necessary knowledge?" How much is "study once and forget?" If it is "study once and forget," are we testing the "right stuff?"

    One thing he stated in his article was;
    “I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession."​
    Now again this is an "outsider" commenting on this.
    It is sometimes hard to justify the use of the, Example: the train leaving NYC and the other train leaving Chicago type of problem but we as educators know why (but right now I can't remember it must be my oldtimes acting up I remember telling a parent why just can't remember what I said :rolleyes:)
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The board member in question is EXTREMELY unprofessional. I'm still unclear on how he got a copy of the test:eek: and sharing the contents of it would be considered a violation if a teacher did the same.

    I don't think most people need to know the dates of the Civil War, the 12 Pairs of cranial nerves, and a whole lot of other things we were tested on during the course of our education to be successful in their chosen fiekds...should we surmise that being tested on those things was also not important? Should we do away with content that isn't used by most professionals? I'd hazard a guess that same board member, Dave, doesn't know how to use a wood plane or cut a mitred corner...I'm of the thinking that NOTHING we learn is a waste, that the more we know gives us more options, that well deigned tests don't merely ask students to regurgitate information, but call on deeper, critical thinking skills.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    In fact the school board member has made a different and much stronger claim: that the math itself is irrelevant because he and his colleagues agree that they never use it.

    If that's so, then all of education is a sham.
     
  9. Pacificpastime

    Pacificpastime Companion

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    Interesting reads, Irishdave. Thanks for posting.
     
  10. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I get the general idea of what this guy was trying to do, but agree that he didn't go about it well. Personally, I've always wondered what I'd get on the ACT if I took it now.
     
  11. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Well, I think I know why some people do not understand what is asked for on tests, Sometimes it is the process not the answer we are looking for. And that is a hard concept to understand.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I guess it depends on what we see as the purpose of education, and on the purpose of standardized testing.

    If we agree with the article, then apparently the purpose of education is preparation for work-- we should learn things that we can use in our future professional lives.

    So no more Hamlet! (Seriously, when was the last time anyone NEEDED Shakespear???) And no philosophy. No theology for anyone but those entering religous life. No poetry, no short stories, no music or art. You decide fairly early on-- at age 10 or so maybe???- what you'll be when you grow up and learn only those things that you'll "need."

    And apparently the purpose of standardized testing is to ascertain that you've learned what you need to know for those jobs down the road?? Kind of an entry exam for trade school???

    Sorry, but I disagree, strongly. I believe in education for the sake of education, for the sake of finding beauty and relationships in the world around us. I don't think standardized testing has to test those things, and only those things, that you'll "need" later in life. I think the purpose of standardized testing varies widely with teh particular test being given and wtih the person who has decided to give it.

    And, for what it's worth, when my kids tell me they're planning to teach, they receive the same encouragement I give to kids planning to follow any other dream.
     
  13. Jayneorama

    Jayneorama Rookie

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    I agree with much of what is being said here, especially with regard to the process of learning being as important as the outcome. I also think that it's telling that someone with multiple degrees scored so poorly on the reading section. Ethics aside (Is it possible he took last year's test that is no longer being used, or a practice version?), when a highly educated adult would need heavy reading intervention, that leaves me many questions as to exactly what was being assessed, and how it was worded.
     
  14. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    When I went to school there were three tests one was called the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, The California Test of Basic Skills, and then of course the New York State Regent's test. Now every state has its own Basic Skills test some of the tests are quite good.......

    ....... but some are quite poor. The poor ones were rushed into service so that federal funds would not be lost and have never been improved upon! These few poor ones are giving us the black eye.
    It is just like a teacher who borrows another teacher's lesson plan and tries to teach from it without pre reading it! (I have seen this!)

    I guess the thing I HATE about standardized testing is how the results are used. The results should be used to assess a student's knowledge so as to improve his/her learning. It really should not be used for a grade, or teacher evaluation. I believe that a teacher should use it on their own to identify areas to be retaught or emphasized. A TOOL to be used BY THE TEACHER.
    For one thing most tests do not assess items in the higher levels of intellectual behavior on Blooms taxonomy, the revised or original.
    I feel that a well trained teacher can assess higher levels of intellectual behavior, better than a standardized test. But the bean counters cannot hang their hats on the teacher's ability to assess because they cannot measure it easily!
     
  15. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    I think you hit the nail on the head there Dave.
     
  16. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I think Education has done some poor PR on testing, because the lack of trust the public has for our profession we need to do a better job of PR! At my school they decided to close the "shop" and FCS lab WHY!? because it is not tested so it does not "get federal funding for the district!" but this loss is a real detriment to a well rounded educated student.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OK, so now we've shifted focus. The author complained that he, an educated, successful professional couldn't pass the test.

    Now we're talking about how the tests are used.

    I see nothing inherently wrong with most standardized tests. Yes, they tend to ask lower level questions-- it's pretty much impossible to show work.

    That's OK-- those sort of questions aren't their aim. Their aim is to test your knowledge and processing of those lower level ideas.

    So maybe, at age 53, I don't remember all I learned about plate tectonics. That's OK. When I heard of last year's earthquake in Japan, I understood the basics of what had happened. And I no longer remember the definition of a particple or a gerund. That's OK-- I have a good grasp of proper grammar and punctuation.

    Those basics on the test were the building blocks that enabled me to become educated. I can appreciate the majesty of the Preamble to the Consitution even though I'm no longer able to recite it.

    As to how the tests are used, or how often they're given, or the common practice of teaching to the test, that's a different article.
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    My school places a HUGE emphasis on verbal problems.

    Very seldom in life do we come across an equation just waiting to be solved. Outside the classroom, it's simply NOT the way we use math. We come across situations that need a solution. So part of what we teach kids in math is how to translate a situation-- a verbal problem-- into something more concrete that's easy to deal with in an organized manner.

    That particular type of verbal problem-- a motion problem-- is a great example. It enables you to take the information, and organize it into a chart-- list both trains, their rate and their time in a chart. Then you multiply the rate by the time, find the distances, and solve the problem.

    Will you ever have to solve that partiular problem in real life? Probably not, unless you work for Amtrack. But the approach? Absolutely. The whole process of organizing information, of approaching a problem logically, is important in so many aspects of life.

    But there's no way to predict which of the students in that 8th grade class will need to solve which types of problems. So they're given the tools-- the organization, the formulas, the process-- in the hopes that they'll be able to translate those basics into a way to attack the problems they do have to solve.
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I read the article being discussed.

    First comment I want to make is that I assumed that the school board member used a released test instead of a test that needed to be under lock and key.

    Second comment is that I did the same thing with our state released tests in all content areas. I wanted to see how hard they really were. In all honesty, they were exactly what our state claims them to be - bare bones basic.

    I know different states have different tests and NY Regent tests at the basic level may be harder than our state tests, but then again, I'm wondering why a school board member couldn't get 1 math problem right.

    Now, I just looked at released tests for NY Regents. I can understand that someone long from calculus and trig might struggle with mathB or algebra 2/trig, but the algebra and geometry are easy peasy lemon squeezy. I can guarantee that anyone that took the math in HS or college, with a quick refresher course could pass these tests. Looked at the English one too.

    Sorry, this school board member should not be failing these tests.
     
  20. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    My thoughts exactly! I agree completely with you assessment of the test questions. I am currently working on my HS Math certification. While I know there are differences, I would think the Praxis II would be relatively similar to the standardized tests. Ok, probably a little more advanced (hopefully) than the standardized tests, but the logic still applies.

    The first time I took the test, I passed the Pedagogy test easily, but came up just a few points short on the actual content. Where did I make the most mistakes? On the calculus and trig that I hadn't seen since EARLY in my college career. All the rest of the stuff, even if I hadn't studied or reviewed it, was really pretty simple to figure out.

    I've taken the content test again and will be getting those results next week, but I still struggled on the calculus part, so I'm afraid I might be a few points shy again.

    Still, I think I could go into the test COLD and still get more than 10 out of 60 questions correct.
     
  21. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Hmmmm....no test prep necessary. Dang, if I had thought of that, my classes last year would have been a LOT easier (well, for me anyway). "Ok class, we've got a test next week, but don't worry about it. We're gonna watch movies and talk about our favorite things and just socialize until test day. Nah...we're not gonna actually cover the material because you should know it already. Most of it is review anyway."

    Ok - sarcasm off. Still, as I've said before, I think covering the material thoroughly and teaching the students how to apply the material IS preparing them for the test. While I don't like the idea of strictly "teaching to the test", I DO support the idea of giving the kids several worksheets and practice sessions with questions that are written like those on the test and cover the same basic material.

    When I was in 8th or 9th grade, Reader's Digest use to publish trial "Mensa Tests" in their magazine every year or so. The first time I took one of those tests, I had some trouble with it because I had never seen those kind of questions before. By the 3rd or 4th time, I was scoring very high and well within the time limit. Even though it wasn't necessarily on material that I would use every day, I still enjoyed taking the tests. At the start of my senior year, we were given a test very similar to the Mensa practice tests. This was done to decide who would qualify for "Advanced" classes. I almost felt like I was cheating because I was so much MORE familiar with these types of questions than my classmates and many of the kids in my class that were easily as smart or smarter than I did NOT pass the tests.

    So, yeah, being familiar with the format of a test is helpful, especially when it is a high-stakes test. One of the math teachers in our district actually had 100% of his students pass their EOG's a couple of years ago. How did they do it? By using one of the educational software programs available that simulate the test questions. The teacher would only choose questions that were "medium" or "hard" for the evaluations, so by the time the kids took the real test, they were very familiar with the phrasing and format of the questions.

    Alice nailed the answer for this. Life very rarely gives us problems in a neat, equation form. We are given information and have to decide what part of that information is relevant and how we have to apply it. I worked in Purchasing for 13 years. Some of the information I needed was pretty straightforward (a case of gloves costs "X", so 10 cases will cost 10X). However, I also had to determine how many cases to order each week, and that depended on how many we had used the previous week.

    One of the most challenging applications of this concept was used when I worked at McDonald's. Several of us are old enough to remember the big "bin" that held all the food and the crewmembers could just grab it and go. It looks easy enough, but learning how MUCH too cook at a given time and when to cook it was almost as much art as it was science. You had to develop a "feel" for how busy you were at the moment AND how busy you would be for the next 20-30 minutes. Once you learn how to judge those variables, the job became a lot easier, but it took several days of training to develop a basic proficiency and even longer to actually be efficient at it as well.

    The point is, as Alice and others have said, learning for the sake of learning is justification enough. I still remember the best lessons I learned in elementary, middle and high school. Quite often, those lessons didn't deal as much with the material itself as it did how to analyze the material and determine what needed to be done with it. And then some of the lessons were just FUN, but still informative. Those are the ones I remember most fondly.
     
  22. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    Vocational classes do qualify districts for federal Perkins funds.
     
  23. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Yes but there is not very much money for the Middle school "shop" level.
     

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