Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the Least We Can Do

De Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs.Image via Wikipedia


In this numbers obsessed society, test makers have figured us all out.  They have realized that if they make the test long enough, tedious enough, and fill them with multiple choice or scantron-able answers then we will assume they are valuable.  What more is that they have figured out that they can even sell us software that will grade the tests for us, break down all of the date, and create a nice graph.  Testing done.  Results at hand.

Except if we are to test students, then at the very least we should look at those tests.  We should try to decipher their answers, create our own data, and meet with them to discuss it.  Yes, a multiple choice test is cleaner and easier but it also provides less of a view into the heads of our students, into their thoughts, into their learning.  A clean test that a machine can correct provides us with data, nothing else, points to be graphed with no clear direction or at the very least not a very detailed one.

So if we must test the children, then do them the favor of correcting it yourself.  Give their work the time and effort you expect them to put into taking the test.  It's the least we can do.

2 comments:

Tom said...

Then we can commiserate with them over the fact that their standardized tests--even those with essays--will be graded either by a computer or someone employed by Pearson (I like to spin tales of bitter old ladies in Minnesota who hate the fact that their lives have been reduced to grading their essays).

This sounds really lazy, btw, but the reason I don't give multiple choice tests is that I find making them tedious and would rather just have a short/long answer-type test (if I am giving a test, that is).

Wm Chamberlain said...

Can't we just pretend to feel their pain? ;)

After a couple years of not having to do any mandatory anything, this year I have been co-teaching 7th grade science. The other teacher is the "real" science teacher so he gets to attend the meetings and do all the not so fun stuff. He has to prepare benchmarks and finals (of course I help, I actually have much more experience teaching science than he does.) It gets to be a real irritation when we have to give tests only for data collection when we already know what our students can and can't do.

When I get back to a "normal" classroom next year I suspect I will have to be creating these MC tests, my goal will be to find a way to make them useful for me and my students.

 

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