Teaching and testing

I’ve spent the past few days working with 1st graders, trying to show them atlases and dictionaries, and then at the very end of the session, sneak the internet in.

Why? Because on one standardized test or another, there is a question which asks them which would be the best place to find a picture of some animal. Would you look in an atlas, in a dictionary, or on the internet?

Whoever wrote the test item knows that dictionaries don’t have pictures. Except, of course, when you’re six years old, and the whole frickin’ dictionary is pictures.

Up and down the grade levels, our standardized tests ask similarly narrow-minded questions about reference sources that indicate that the people who wrote the test items do not know how the information society works, at least since 2000.

This has been a message for those who think that they’re getting reliable data from those standardized tests.

3 thoughts on “Teaching and testing

  1. Aggravation in which I have to bitch about my own condition. Gwinnett tests to the end of the Earth anyway. Let’s see about the standardized tests we take- Georgia High School Graduation, Georgia End of Course Tests, the Gateway Exams (which, because Gwinnett is better than any system in Georgia, are only given in Gwinnett and must be passed in order to receive a GWINNETT diploma, whether or not the state requirements for graduation have been met), and, because that’s just not enough- we’re now required to give online “Benchmark” exams to kids in all core areas 6 times a year. The same benchmarks are given across the county, and teachers’ scores are measured against other teachers’ scores- not the actual scores, but how far each group of students progress under each teacher.
    So the killer is exactly the argument you make about the dictionary. These benchmarks are _content_ based, not skill based. Which means, when the tests are designed by Brookwood high school teachers (for example), they may cover the content at Brookwood, but not Berkmar. So when these tests are written by folks who are at rich white schools instead of schools that have single class sets of novels (instead of books for all kids to take home), the students at my school are being evaluated on the material studied by kids at OTHER schools- even within the same county! 🙁

  2. This will sound crazy, but standardized testing is what makes me wary of Government run health care. I am trying to avoid the “S” word.

    In my pinko heart, I believe that good health care should not be something you have access to only if you can afford it or your employer is willing to pay for it. But my head says, “These guys can’t even get THIS right.”

  3. I still don’t understand why the same school system can have good schools and bad schools. I never understood it growing up. Why is one school in a system allowed to have all kinds of resources and other schools have classroom sets of books? This is true even in bussed systems, which I thought was supposed to alleviate the problem. It’s just stupid.

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