Education's goals muddled

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State test scores have been published and compared, and various schools and/or school districts have been declared wanting – simply on the basis of the aggregate outcome on a grade-adjusted, standardized test across at least the three disciplines of reading, writing and arithmetic.

The test does not take into account the lost learning time because of teacher furloughs.

The test does not take into account any comparison between the students’ ability at the beginning of the school year and the end.

Thus, no account is made for the learning distance traveled over a nine- to 10-month span.

No one knows at what quintile the student enters a school year compared to what quintile the student exits a school year. No such data is made public, if it even exists.

Therefore, the onus is on the teacher, the school and the community, whereas the criticism should be on deficiencies of the testing system – not the teacher, the administration or the school system.

It is no mystery why there is wholesale test enhancement. By and large the test is constructed under the assumption that a student’s goal is a collegiate-level-or-beyond career. Noble, of course, but hardly realistic.

The test should be constructed on the assumption of competence to exist and prosper in a 21st-century commerce. For example: At the ninth-grade level, is the student 25 percent ready, and at the 12th-grade level is the student 100 percent ready, to enter an entry-level position in the workforce and community? If that is the targeted end point, fine and good. If not, then the costs to continue one’s education within the public system of education should be tuition-free for all students.

Tom Zwemer

Augusta

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Fundamental_Arminian
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Fundamental_Arminian 11/12/11 - 07:54 am
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My chief complaint about

My chief complaint about standardized tests is that they don't exemplify the problem-solving required in real careers. How many jobs come with multiple choices neatly laid out? Multiple-choice tests can't show which students are well-prepared to think for themselves and formulate rational arguments. In real life, problems must be identified and solutions proposed and evaluated. The ability to do those things is hard, if not impossible, for multiple-choice tests to measure.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/12/11 - 08:01 am
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What an intelligent letter

What an intelligent letter that makes valid points. Fundamental Arm makes good points, too. I've always been a pretty good test taker for some reason, but I realized early on many KNEW the subject better than I did. Scores and knowledge of the subject, don't always match.

avidreader
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avidreader 11/12/11 - 09:11 am
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Excellent letter. Concerning

Excellent letter. Concerning tracking: "Where they were at the beginning vs. where they are at the end", is a good point. All teachers in Richmond County have access to Data Director, an on-line storage bin full of great information about the students testing scores in previous years. For instance, I know which students did not fare well on Reading, Math, etc. in the eighth-grade. Some were merely pushed through the system and now they have to compete in a a curriculum which moves quickly and demands focused skills. The proficient students remain proficient and the Basic learners mostly improve by the end of ninth-grade. But not all. Also, I KNOW that many teachers do not use Data Director as it is time-consuming and clumped with tedious statistics.

I still believe in tracking students after eighth-grade. The less-than-Basic do not have to compete with the Proficient in a daily setting. We can still teach them the Standards required to succeed, but we can slow down and cover ONE THING more instensely, rather than trying to cram a multitude of topics down their throats.

And yes, Mr Zwemer, not all kids are cut out for college. You, the parent, the child, and the teacher -- we all know it. It's the upper echelon of administrators at the county and state levels who deny it.

There are simply too many gurus selling their wares to desparate educational systems. Extremely intense topics are good for many children, but some simply need to be nurtured and taught that life is wonderful when one can prosper in society with a positive attitude and a good work ethic. Of course, there are many who disagree with me. So it goes!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 11/12/11 - 12:12 pm
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Read again Mr. Zwemer's last

Read again Mr. Zwemer's last paragraph. If we were to take it seriously, we would have to have multiple tests for the different aptitudes of the students; for example:

One set of tests for those who show aptitude for collegiate fine arts.
One set of tests for those who show aptitude for collegiate liberal arts.
One set of tests for those who show aptitude for collegiate science & engineering.
One set of tests for those who show aptitude for non-collegiate technical education.
One set of tests for those who show aptitude for skilled labor.
One set of tests for those who show aptitude for unskilled labor.
Another set of tests for those who show aptitude to rule over the rest of us as politicians.

It would be a testing jungle out there.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 11/12/11 - 05:33 pm
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FA, Might I advise that you

FA,

Might I advise that you contact Dr. Frank Chou, retired Professor of Education at Augusta State University, and ask him to inform your views on multiple-choice, standardized testing.

In Winter Quarter 1978, I had the good fortune to take Dr. Chou's "Test and Measurements" course at the old Augusta College. Between his adept instruction and the materials presented by Cronbach in his textbook on educational measurement, every issue raised by you is answered in favor of the use of standardized, M/C tests to answer questions at every level of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Of course, I am not "taking up" for the present testing mess in GA. I've been fighting self-serving educrats here and in the ATL for years over their use of expensive, inferior tests constructed and administered not for the good of our kids. Rather, tests like the CRCTs and the GHSGT are employed for the good of their bank accounts and the bottom lines of corporate test publishing houses, their executives and their stockholders.

Carleton Duvall
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Carleton Duvall 11/12/11 - 05:41 pm
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When I graduated from high

When I graduated from high school in 1941 there were no tests. NONE. Somehow, however, most of us were able to muddle through life very well. Tests would not have helped the ones that didn't

bailmeout4
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bailmeout4 11/12/11 - 06:54 pm
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One must understand that

One must understand that these tests measure BASIC aptitude. There must be some measure to compare how public schools are doing across the state.

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