Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Achievement Gap and Testing: Understanding standardized Testing Below Its Deceptive Surface (Part III)

When two youngsters are administered the same timed-test and each receives a score of 6/10 correct, we assume that they are working at the same achievement level. Student “A” may have responded with six correct answers after completing only six of the 10 items. Student "B" may respond knowledgeably and correctly to only three test items. He guesses at the remaining seven questions of which four are coded “incorrect” and only three are correct. If Student “A” had more time, he may have received a perfect score of 10 out of 10, because he actually knew the concept well, while Student B's score might continue to fluctuate solely based on the mathematical probabilities associated with guessing at four random multiple-choice items.

Don't our children also deserve to be measured by more than high-stakes test? When making decisions that have a long-term impact on our lives (college attendance, a home purchase, or which car should we buy), numerous factors are frequently entertained and multiple measures are used before we arrive at a final conclusion.

The American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association and the National Council on Measurement in Education advocate using multiple resources for student assessment. There should be multiple types of information used from assessments, multiple formats of assessment, more reliance on formal and informal testing occasions where proficiency can be demonstrated, and multiple opportunities for students to “show what they know" in a risk-free, stress-free environment where the actual demonstration of knowledge is more important than what the clock says.

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