Re: Forcing Standardized Tests on Diverse Kids
- Subject: Re: Forcing Standardized Tests on Diverse Kids
- From: "George N. Schmidt" <Csubstance@AOL.COM>
- Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 07:53:41 EST
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
In a message dated 1/28/01 11:23:13 PM, susanharman@IGC.ORG writes:
multiple-choice test can tell you WHY a child picked the answer she did,
and therefore, it also can't tell you if her reasoning is good. It only
cares about what somebody thinks is the one "right" answer. >>
Hello Family and Friends,
Last year, Deb Meier pointed out this same thing at the (March 31 - April 1)
conference at Columbia University. To understand a child's learning, we have
to pay attention to why the child is doing what he or she is doing.
This is one reason why if multiple choice tests are to be used at all, they
have to be released -- in full -- no later than when the scores are
distributed to the children. Secret tests hurt children's learning. They are
not simply an interruption in our classes and schools. At least if the tests
are public on the day the scores are released, there can be some discussion,
both during class and afterwards as parents and children get to go over each
Secrecy in testing must end this year in every city and state where these
tests are used. Anything less is and intellectual (and often emotional) form
of child abuse. The kid gets no explanation of what she did "wrong" (or
"right" for that matter). Only the complete tests -- and an explanation of
the scoring -- can remedy that. Nothing else. All tests have to become public
on the day the scores are returned to the kids.
Two weeks ago, my 11-year-old, sixth-grade son Danny took the Chicago "high
school" CASE algebra test (because he's in a "gifted" program).
They told him if he "passed" he'd get "high school credit."
The following week (last Tuesday), Paul Vallas and Gery Chico crowed about
the fact that some of our "gifted" kids are "earning high school credit" at
their monthly press briefing. Nobody from the media but me even asks at those
events how this can be, whether it makes any kind of sense, or what it even
means. We're going to have to keep repeating the simplest takes on this
I'm watching the damage these secret high-stakes tests do to kids at all
points on the bell curve. We all know what happens to the kids who "flunk",
especially in places like Chicago where we've seen lives ruined, despite all
the pieties about "Leave not child behind" and "extra help." The body count
is very high here, because the stakes have been high since 1996. We'll be
hearing the echoes of the "failure" group for generations, and for many it is
now too late to help them. They are on the streets, thanks to the "Chicago
miracle" and the politicians who profited from it.
But are we doing good for the "bright" kids?
The "smart" kids are becoming arrogant. What are they learning? That every
problem comes with four or five possible answers, all brief? That every
situation has one "correct" answer?
This is really crazy as soon as we ask people to think about it.
The "bright" kids are also learning, unless we really work with them, to
become trivial pursuit experts, quick think artists, but not to do anything
real. (I wonder if some of the Dot.com craziness of last year resulted from
that substitution of bubble sheets for reality in the life of the bright kids
who thought a "business plan" was the same as manufacturing, sales, and
profits? People who go around reminding you what their SAT and ACT scores
were tend to be fairly shallow people, as Alfie and others have pointed out
in a different way in discussing the shallowness of learning we find in
"bright" kids who score "high" on these tests. Result: the NASDAQ of the year
These types of tests are not neutral, as we know.
In fact, the more they are used, the more damage they do to all the kids --
at least as much to the "smart" ones (who develop an instant gratification
version of learning and knowledge).
End secret testing.
IT'S PLAN BROWN WRAPPER TIME.
George N. Schmidt
5132 W. Berteau
Chicago, IL 60641
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