15
   

What happens when an adult takes the 10th grade test?

 
 
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 11:09 am
I thought this was fascinating....

Quote:
“The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

“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.

“It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I’d actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn’t that miss the point? A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.”

Here’s the clincher in what he wrote:

“If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.

“It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty? Using what criteria? To whom did they have to defend their decisions? As subject-matter specialists, how qualified were they to make general judgments about the needs of this state’s children in a future they can’t possibly predict? Who set the pass-fail “cut score”? How?”

“I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”


Read all about it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/when-an-adult-took-standardized-tests-forced-on-kids/2011/12/05/gIQApTDuUO_blog.html

What do you think? Is the test bubble about to burst?


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Type: Question • Score: 15 • Views: 10,298 • Replies: 60

 
Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 12:31 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
What do you think?

A couple of links away from your article, the Washington Post offers samples from some standardized tests for grades four and eight. After taking them, I have to say they're better than I expected. People who trash them may misunderstand what they're about. Consider, for example, the fourth-grade math question:

(47 x 75) ÷ 25 = _______

At first sight, this looks like an exercise in menial drudgery that tells you nothing about the student's math competence. But at second sight, you see---or ought to see---that 75÷25 = 3. Hence, you are really just multiplying 47 x 3, which is easy enough. Students who see the shortcut demonstrate that they "get" algebra; students who don't, don't. It's actually a pretty good question to ask.

boomerang wrote:
Is the test bubble about to burst?

No it isn't, for two reasons. First, it's possible to devise decent tests, or at least decent-enough tests to keep the idea of standardized testing viable in the public's mind. Second, and perhaps most importantly, standardized tests are fantastic devices for covering the arses of risk-averse legislators and bureaucrats. They're not going to fall for a less-safe idea just because it's better public policy.
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 12:43 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
Quote:
A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.”


What do you think? Is the test bubble about to burst?


I think if the testing reflected adult life more closely, no one would get out of
Grade 4.

Seriously.

I think students have to be able to manage the fundamentals to be able to synthesize knowledge/information from a number of areas to be able to make decisions as they get older.
PUNKEY
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 01:18 pm
It's all about regurgitation.

The data goes in, it is expected that it should be reflected back as "learned" in testing.
(Never mind that the data is going into human beings)

I don't know . . . what IS the best way to test if an 11 year old has "learned"? No one has come up with any alternative.

I agree with ehBeth about getting the fundamentals.
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 01:33 pm
One other thing I was just reading about (I MUST learn to bookmark more, I can never seem to find this stuff back) is that the actual act of taking tests helps solidify learning. It helps the test-taker really internalize whatever information he or she is being tested on, and be able to better recall that information later on than if no test was given.

I completely agree with Thomas that there are good and bad tests, though.

Edit: this isn't it, too old. And whatever I read had a slightly different slant, it was more about how the brain works and why testing works in a way that other studying methods don't. Similar idea though:

Quote:
The benefits of testing on long-term retention of lecture material were examined in a simulated classroom setting. Participants viewed a series of three lectures on consecutive days and engaged in a different type of postlecture activity on each day: studying a lecture summary, taking a multiple choice test, or taking a short answer test. Feedback (correct answers) was provided for half of the responses on the multiple choice and short answer tests. A final comprehensive short answer test was given 1 month later. Restudying or taking a multiple choice test soon after learning improved final recall relative to no activity, but taking an initial short answer test improved final recall the most. Feedback did not affect retention, probably due to the high level of performance on the initial tests. This finding is a powerful demonstration of how tests (especially recall tests) can improve retention of material after long retention intervals.


http://duke.edu/~ab259/pubs/Butler%26Roediger(2007).pdf
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 01:52 pm
@boomerang,
I think I would ace any english portion of the test and probably fail the math. It all has to do with practice. It's impossible for me to remember the things I learned over 30 years ago if I haven't used them in between.

Surprisingly though, I do remember things I learned in physical science class even though I've probably never used those things either. Maybe it's combination of what you like and what you use.
engineer
 
  5  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 01:54 pm
@Thomas,
I agree with Thomas that standardized testing isn't going away. The reason standardized testing started in the first place has not gone away so testing isn't going away. Standardized testing saw its big rise when the government was faced with a wave of soldiers entering the service for WWI and needed to have some tool to quickly (if not especially accurately) separate them into functional areas. Despite how much we abhor it, performance on standardized tests does correlate with performance in areas they are targeted to. The SAT predicts college freshman performance when almost no other metric does. It's not perfect but it turns out it is better than just about anything else. As long as resources are limited (and they are becoming more limited, not less) those controlling the resources are going to want a way to increase their bang for the buck and testing is an easy way to do that. If you are going to hire three people and have three thousand applicants, are you going to screen and interview all three thousand in case there is a diamond in the rough out there or toss a test out to cut your pool to a more managable thirty?

As for the original article, the majority (vast majority) of what you learn in school you will never use in your adult life. The dean of my department in college was teaching an especially challenging course directly related to my future profession. He told us "only ten percent of what I am teaching you will be of use to you in your career. The problem is I don't know which ten percent." I have never had to know how many moons Jupiter has or even that there are planets besides Earth. The difference between soils? The symbolism in "For Whom the Bell Tolls"? Where notes fall on a music staff? Nope, nope, nope. Does that mean that I shouldn't have learned them? I don't think so. I might have gone into a field that used those facts and at least I was exposed to them to gauge my interest. If we only test on items that we think every person will use in their lives, the test will be very short.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 03:17 pm
@Thomas,
I would agree IF they knew how the student arrived at the answer. They don't know that so they don't really know who "gets" what. Plus, students are allowed to use calculators during the test so they're really just showing that they know the functions.

I think classroom teachers have long been able to devise good tests that more clearly show what the student has learned.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 03:23 pm
@ehBeth,
Why do you think that?

I agree that kids should master the fundamentals but I don't see what standardized testing has to do with that.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 03:27 pm
@PUNKEY,
I think the best way to determine whether a child has learned the material is by taking a test devised and graded by the teacher who provides feedback to the child (and parents).

What good is a test if you don't know what you've missed?
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 03:28 pm
@sozobe,
I've read that too. I've also read that simply returning to the concept periodically has the same effect.

I'm not against testing, just the big standardized tests.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 03:30 pm
@rosborne979,
But wouldn't the same hold true without the tests?
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 03:51 pm
@engineer,
I don't think employers have access to the results a kid made on tests, even the SAT, unless the kid offers them up. Wouldn't it make more sense to test the applicants to see if they understood the material they would need to succeed at that job?

And it isn't like these tests are free. They cost billions and billions of dollars that are being diverted from other areas of education.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 04:11 pm
@boomerang,
I did find it back I think! I'm pretty sure this is what I had in mind:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/science/21memory.html

I recommend the whole thing, but some excerpts:

Quote:

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/21/science/21memory_graphic/21memory_graphic-popup-v2.jpg

[...]

Why retrieval testing helps is still unknown. Perhaps it is because by remembering information we are organizing it and creating cues and connections that our brains later recognize.

“When you’re retrieving something out of a computer’s memory, you don’t change anything — it’s simple playback,” said Robert Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved with the study.

But “when we use our memories by retrieving things, we change our access” to that information, Dr. Bjork said. “What we recall becomes more recallable in the future. In a sense you are practicing what you are going to need to do later.”

It may also be that the struggle involved in recalling something helps reinforce it in our brains.

Maybe that is also why students who took retrieval practice tests were less confident about how they would perform a week later.

“The struggle helps you learn, but it makes you feel like you’re not learning,” said Nate Kornell, a psychologist at Williams College. “You feel like: ‘I don’t know it that well. This is hard and I’m having trouble coming up with this information.’ ”

By contrast, he said, when rereading texts and possibly even drawing diagrams, “you say: ‘Oh, this is easier. I read this already.’ "

[...]

Dr. Kornell said that “even though in the short term it may seem like a waste of time,” retrieval practice appears to “make things stick in a way that may not be used in the classroom.

“It’s going to last for the rest of their schooling, and potentially for the rest of their lives.”


I understand you're not lumping all tests with standardized tests btw, just wanted to provide further info on the article I was actually thinking of.

This article was interesting to me re: the practical educational benefits of testing.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 04:13 pm
I've had the opposite experience from many - I've always been a student with poor study habits and attendance, but I excel at standardized tests.

Cycloptichorn
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 04:35 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
If we only test on items that we think every person will use in their lives, the test will be very short

I agree, and it would have to be extremely to the point of ridiculously, individualized to actually test whatever information any individual person would use in their everyday life.
I'm not a carpenter, so if I weren't a teacher, I wouldn't really need to know off the top of my head that there are 300 millimeters to the foot.
So, how does anyone propose that we devise a test that only tests the information that any one person will use in the course of their everyday life, when in fact, the information that every person uses in the course of their everyday life varies?

I'd be extremely interested to see the math test to which this journalist didn't know ANY of the answers. That's a little scary - and incongruous to me. Give me a break....
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 04:39 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
I excel at them too. I think people who excel at them think they mean something and people who suck at them want to believe they don't mean anything.
Human nature, innit?
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 04:58 pm
@sozobe,
I'm not sure why retrieval in itself should be a terribly important priority in teaching. The priority to me would be retrieving what's important, knowing where to look up what's less important, and forgetting what's trivial lest I clutter my mind. Judging by the tests I have seen as an exchange student in the late 1980s, test-authors tend to prioritize whatever is easy to test for, at the expense of what's important. On the other side of the test, students prioritize retention of what's on the test over what's important or even interesting. I don't consider this a winning combination. Plus, both high schools had a reputation for excellence, so the anecdotal-evidence problem should work in their favor.
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 05:03 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:

I've had the opposite experience from many - I've always been a student with poor study habits and attendance, but I excel at standardized tests.

Cycloptichorn


Yup. That's me as well, Cyclo. I've often said that what most standardized tests measure is actually a person's ability to pass a test. Has nothing to do with intelligence or knowledge.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2011 05:07 pm
@aidan,
I don't think anyone says "I'm good with fractions, I think I'll become a carpenter." During the course of leaning the skill, the math has to happen.

I don't see why we should worry about devising a test for everyone. Outside the fundamentals not everyone needs to know the same things. If we judge education solely by the test all we need is math, reading and a little bit of science.

It was a school board member who took the tests, not a journalist.
 

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