Monday, April 7, 2014

Smarter & Balanced

Being part of the extensive United States public school system, I have the distinct pleasure of taking the standardized tests the government provides.

The most recent institution is the Smarter Balanced tests, which nobody knows about yet and which I am going to be a guinea pig for.  

In class recently, we watched a series of videos highlighting how to use the Smarter Balanced testing tools.  Since Smarter Balanced is on the computer, apparently we the students needed to learn how to find the "Calculator" function and how to go from one problem to the next.  (Oh my gargoyles--you press NEXT and BACK!  How original! *sarcasm*) 

Needless to say, I thought that the videos were pointless.  Maybe it was because I woke up at five a.m. to write more of Polar Opposites, or maybe it was because the videos were so boring, or maybe it was both, but at any rate I thought that the introductory videos were a waste of time.

But anyway, this post isn't about how the American government isn't getting anything done, but rather how the logic behind testtaking is...weird.

The person who spoke to my class said something about testtaking that stood out to me.  "For example, if everybody misses a question on the test this year, they'll probably omit the question next year," they said to the class.

Does this make sense to you?

To be honest, it didn't really make sense to me.

Instead of omitting the question, which seems to me a quite unnecessary action, why not teach the students how to work the problem?  That way, the test won't conform to the students, and the students' results would not be as rigged.  The tests cannot conform to the students--the students need to conform to the test.  What is the point of taking the test if the students know everything anyway?  

Tests' purposes are to...

  • Show us where the students are at.
  • Show us where the students need to be.
  • Show us what the students need to work on.
The students obtain a score.  The government official sees the score, and notes what the students need to work on.  Then they note what the majority of the students need to work on.  And then they alter the school curriculum accordingly, OR they just tell all the teachers what to work on.

It's as simple as that.

Versus omitting the questions altogether, and thinking that the students are "so smart" because they got "everything right."

To be honest, I think that our education system could do a better job of efficiently and effectively teaching us students.  But I also need to remember that I don't know everything, and that school is a place for learning.  I still have a lot to learn.  The education system is trying out different methods of teaching, and although I might not agree with some of them, I'm at school, and there's nothing I can do but wait and see how good a job they do of educating me.  

It's all in God's hands.

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