Standardized Testing
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testing1.jpg (500x388 pixels)

testing1.jpg (500x388 pixels) | Standardized Testing | Scoop.it
Meleny Weber's insight:

I think this cartoon encapsulates many peoples’ feelings towards standardized testing. It is about a man, cleverly named Ed Reform, who is talking to a student. He tells the student that they are going to give him a test, and if he does not do a good job, his teachers will be fired.  The student interrupts Ed Reform by asking if there is any proof that the test will improve his school. Ed Reform responds by saying that his specific question is not on the test, meaning he should not worry about that. I think this is a very respectable and straightforward picture of standardized testing in our schools.

The man’s name, Ed Reform, is a play off of him being an administrator of Education Reform in the county. Supervisors administer standardized tests quite frequently. If the students do poorly on them, they view the bad grades as a reflection of the teacher. They think it is the teacher’s fault for their students’ grades. This is not true at all. So many teachers get falsely blamed for students’ poor grades and work. Students earn their own grades depending on how hard they work and study. Counties give out so many standardized tests and expect them to be an accurate way to measure the students’ intelligence. This is not true at all because every student learns in a different way, and has different strengths in school. When the student asks if this test will even help improve his school, Ed Reform avoids answering the question, because he knows it will not. The way he responds makes it seem like he does not even know the answer himself, and that the student does not need to worry about the effects. This is not true at all. I believe if students are forced to take all of these tests, then they should know why they have to, and what will come of it. I am curious to see how people can go about fighting standardized tests. I will research more to see if any schools or school districts have in fact attempted to fight the system, and their successes if they did. 

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Reduce standardized testing, protect student data: NY Senate panel

Reduce standardized testing, protect student data: NY Senate panel | Standardized Testing | Scoop.it
New York should reduce the role of standardized testing, bolster protections of student data privacy and improve the distribution of classroom materials, a report from a state Senate committee said Thursday.
Meleny Weber's insight:

The first thing about this news article I noticed was the convincing picture.  It is of many students protesting, but focuses on one young girl. You can see how young she is because she is holding a baby doll. Her sign (picket) reads, “We are not guinea pigs”. She has this angry yet very heart-breaking sad face that shows all of her emotions towards the excessive standardized tests they have been receiving. The article is very short and only consists of New York Senator John Flanagan’s decision regarding standardized testing. In support of the young student’s, parents, and teachers’ protest, he suggested to all schools that standardized testing should be banned through second grade. After that however, the testing will begin. He also left it up to the state officials to either agree or disagree on banning standardized tests.

The picture really sends the whole message, which is why the actual writing is not necessary. It shows that students, young students, do not like the standardized tests. They do not want to be the guinea pigs of the latest science experiment. Tests are not an accurate way to measure the students’ knowledge or intelligence. The students hate the tests so much that they are going out of their way and are protesting against it. I am surprised they even know what a protest is and what it is supposed to do! These kids may have been forced to go and protest by their teachers or parents. Having photographs of the young kids holding picket signs is a good use of pathos. It makes the audience (readers) feel bad for them, and makes them want to join the fight against standardized testing. The kids have a cuteness factor, and seeing such a young, beautiful girl so angry, really causes the audience to react. Obviously the picture and the protest really worked in the students’ favor to fight these standardized tests from being administered at such a young age. That brings up another issue. Standardized tests are not only being given out so frequently, but they are forced on first and second graders. These students have literally just learned how to read basic words, and are still learning how to add single numbers. I cannot even imagine what the standardized tests look like for such young students. Working in the second grade classroom, I got to grade one of their math tests that were distributed by the county. There were several problems on the test that only one or two students got correct. Two out of twenty eight is only 7% of the class. Clearly this test is too advanced for a majority of the students, and it should not be handed out. I understand that there needs to be some type of test or activity to accurately measure if students around the United States are mastering the same material generally around the same time, but there has to be a better way of doing that. I also do not think the various scores are dependent solely on the teacher. Yes, it is the teacher’s job to make sure their students understand the concept, but it is also very dependent on the students themselves. 

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standardized-test-cartoon.jpg (300x188 pixels) | Standardized Testing | Scoop.it
Meleny Weber's insight:

This cartoon truly captures and represents the effects of standardized testing on students. In the cartoon an interviewer is asking a recent graduate "So you were educated in the public school system, what does that qualify you to do?" The grad then answers "is that a multiple choice, true-false, or fill-in-the-blank question?" Students in public schools are constantly being forced to take standardized tests that it becomes second nature for them. The student cannot even answer the question unless it is in the form of a multiple choice question. This just shows how overdone all the tests are in public schools across the county. I completely agree with this comic, and I am against so many tests being distributed to students. 

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Rachel Solomon's curator insight, December 8, 2013 5:21 PM

I think this cartoon accurately uses humor to describe what standardized tests are like. The first man is asking the second man what going through the public school system qualifies him to do, and the second man responds by saying "Is that a multiple choice, true-false, or fill-in-the-blank question?" This is funny because it is so true that now-a-days students are trained to think like that. We look at the type of question, and think how we're supposed to answer it, when in reality we should just be using our brains and actually thinking about it. If you go to any SAT tutor, they teach you how to quickly answer different types of questions. I know from personal experience that I didn't actually learn anything this way and it was like I was just going through the motions to get a good score. That is what standardized tests have become. 

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Illinois grade school test scores plunge — especially in poor communities - Chicago Tribune

Illinois grade school test scores plunge — especially in poor communities - Chicago Tribune | Standardized Testing | Scoop.it
Alton Daily News Illinois grade school test scores plunge — especially in poor communities Chicago Tribune The push to toughen state exams for Illinois grade school students triggered widespread drops in 2013 scores, with hundreds of schools in...
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Standardized Tests - ProCon.org

Standardized Tests - ProCon.org | Standardized Testing | Scoop.it
Is the use of standardized tests improving education in America? Read pros and cons in the debate.
Meleny Weber's insight:

I chose this article because it offers both sides (pro and con) of the debate over standardized testing in schools. It is from the website procon.org, and it has many controversial topics to choose from. The topic of standardized tests was near the beginning of the list of top 25 topics. This shows that this is a major issue that a lot of people are very interesting and passionate about. The website also gives a short background on tests in America. I learned that these types of tests (intelligence measuring) have been around since the 1800s! The popularity increased after the No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2002. This Act made it so that every child had the same opportunity to learn the same information. The only way to see if every student was learning the right lessons and skills was to test them with one general test. They did not take into account that all students learn things at different paces and in various ways. This is a vital flaw in the system of standardized testing. Most of the cons I have already seen repeated in other articles, so I am going to mainly focus on the positive aspects of standardized tests. One pro about these tests is the fact that they are considered inclusive and non-discriminatory. I do have to partially agree because every single student, no matter what, receives the same exact level of difficulty on all questions. It does not matter what race you are or if you have any handicapped, you will be treated like every other student your age. However, this does not take into account that some people physically do not and cannot understand certain topics or ideas that are taught in school. Another pro to standardized testing that is tested is that China has had and continues to have great success with it. China is currently number one in math, science, and reading. How did they get their students to become so successful? They frequently give out standardized tests. This being said, I am sure there are many other outside factors that helped increase the student’s scores, such as stricter schools, stricter home values/morals, and stricter teachers. America is much more laidback, and some parents do not even get involved with their child’s school life. Perhaps if more parents encouraged their children to do their homework and to study the material learned, the students would do better in class, and therefore score higher on standardized tests. One final statistic that caught my attention was that most teachers acknowledge the importance of standardized testing. This answers my question I had previously about whether or not teachers hold a different opinion than parents and students. According to a 2009 Scholastic/Gates Foundation Survey, 81% of public school teachers agree that standardized tests are of somewhat importance when measuring the students’ academic achievements. While this does show that a majority of teachers think these tests are worthwhile, they could only be saying this because there is no other way available to test the students’ achievements. I do agree with the majority of teachers in the fact that these tests do separate the students, but is it really better to put all the good test-takers together and put all the poor test-takers together in separate classes? I do not think so, and I am a strong advocate of having classes with mixed levels of difficulty with lessons. For example, in the second grade classroom I worked in, and in most other elementary schools, there are separate reading groups. Some students learn how to read much slower than other students, who may have a natural talent for reading. I think having a mixed classroom helps strengthen every student in the class. Watching students helps one another is a beautiful thing, and it should definitely be seen in every classroom across the nation. 

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What Kills Creativity?

What Kills Creativity? | Standardized Testing | Scoop.it
Many American writers fear that standardized testing could be destroying our children. They might be right.

Via Charles Tiayon
Meleny Weber's insight:

This blog entry is written by a man who is doing a follow-up entry on a recent letter that was written to the White House. This letter was directed towards President Obama and was written by several very famous authors including, Judy Blume, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Donald Crews. They wrote to the President addressing their concerns about standardized testing ruining the children’s’ creative. They are worried because they feel like students are too focused on studying and receiving good test scores that their creativity is dwindling. They have no more free time to curl up with a good book and explore the literature for fun. Whenever they read, they are reading in order to answer a specific question, and not just reading for pleasure anymore. In the entry, one teacher is quoted saying that standardized tests take a part of the children’s’ souls every year. I feel like this quote is slightly aggressive. Yes, the children have to take many tests throughout their school career, and yes they have to begin very young, but these tests do not take up all of their time. The tests are administered at school, during what would be class time. The only “free” time being taken away is the time the students spend studying, which depends on the student him or herself. There was much retaliation against these authors sending a letter because people feel as though they do not have enough knowledge of the topic. There has been no return letter from the White House or any acknowledgment that President Obama has even read it yet. The blog entry then continues on to talk about how these authors came up with the idea that standardized tests are taking away the children’s creativity. I learned that there have actually been several tests/studies to determine the level of creativity in children over time. One test, the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, shows that creativity has decreased steadily since 1960. This test measures the creativity by asking a set of questions that are very open ended, and asks the children to finish the saying. While it is shown that creativity has in fact decreased in children over time, it is hard to relate the decrease to standardized testing. What makes people think it is the tests and not anything else? What I think is there are many other factors affecting students’ creativity. Ever since the 1960s there have been so many new technological advances. When I ask my parents what they did when they were young, they say they played games outside and made up different things to do. Nowadays, children play videogames or watch TV, things that are creative, but the child is not creating them him or herself. While I do see the authors point in the fact that many children do not read just for fun anymore, I do not think they have a right to solely blame that on standardized tests. They do take up more time and students worry about them, but they still have plenty of time to do what they choose. They just choose not to read any books. 

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Charles Tiayon's curator insight, November 5, 2013 1:05 AM

More than 120 American writers, including Judy Blume, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Donald Crews, as well as National Book Award winners Kathryn Erskine and Phillip Hoose sent an open letter to the White House warning President Obama that the increasing use of standardized tests in American schools are destroying creativity and undermining “children’s love of reading and literature.” As they wrote: "We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. … requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration."

American children are spending too much time on test prep and “too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations,” the writers concluded.

While it’s unlikely that this document will result in any change in American education policy—the White House has issued no response, or even acknowledgement, of this letter—it seems to reflect a common concern among educators and writers. “We are creating a generation that hates reading and feels nothing but hostility for literature,” British author Philip Pullman has said. According to an editorial by one teacher in theDenver Post, “standardized tests are killing our students' creativity, desire to learn. The children … have encountered it every year since third grade, and every year it has taken parts of their souls.”

Parts of their souls!

Rakhee Cherian's curator insight, December 8, 2013 1:46 AM

This article is very interesting and poses some interesting questions. And this also allows me to see some actions that were actually taken against standardized testing and learn about the result. That takes me from a realm of ideas to one of actual action. And then it brings up actual statistics about the cost of of this testing. I thought that was interesting because I realized that in relation to standardized testing I was mostly only thinking about how it affected students and why it was important. I never thought about actual economic affects or how it hurt the school and districts. So this allowed me to see yet another perspective. This article poses a question about how standardized testing kills creativity. But my question is how creativity is defined. What do they mean it kills it? And it also says it creates a kids desire to learn. Is it possible that maybe it might actually increase desire for a certain type of student. Creativity is a broad subject so what might be a good way to implement testing to suit all the different aspects of creativity. And how can they make sure that it is truly fair and reliable? 

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None of the Above - Why Standardized Testing Fails: Bob Sternberg at TEDxOStateU

Oklahoma State University Provost Bob Sternberg developed his first intelligence test in seventh grade and since then has become one of the top 100 psycholog...
Meleny Weber's insight:

This video is a clip from an independent Ted Talks conference. Ted Talks is a global set of conferences about various “ideas worth spreading”. This specific clip is of Bob Sternberg, the President of the Psychological Association, talking about standardized testing. He starts off his speech by saying he is honored to be speaking because in grade school his teachers thought he was a “big dope”. In New Jersey, where he grew up, administrators gave IQ tests almost every year to all of the students. A psychologist would proctor the test and analyze the results. He said the lady looked very scary, which made him have test anxiety. He did poorly on the tests, and therefore his teachers thought he was stupid. Because his teachers thought this, Bob thought he was stupid too.  If everyone thought he was stupid, why should he even bother trying his best on his schoolwork? This went on until he entered the fourth grade. His teacher, Mrs. Alexa, told the students she thought there was more to a student than his or her test grade. She believed and encouraged Bob to do better, and he did. Some students are not as lucky to have such a caring and devoted teacher that truly believes in the best of every student. Bob then moves on to talk about standardized admission tests for college. This video is interesting because it offers a new view/side to the standardized test debate. While he is still disagreeing with having the tests, it shows a psychology professor’s perspective on college entrance exams. He says that back in the day when he took the exams it was a homogenous mix of students. They were all white men from middle to upper class. Back then, mostly everyone did equally as well on the test, but as time went on the types of students taking these exams became much more diverse. People from various backgrounds, cultures, socio-economic statuses, and learning processes all began taking the tests and received very different results. You need so many skills in life that cannot possibly be testes on these exams (SAT and ACT). If people understand that these exams do not test students on everything they need to know in life, then why do we continue to administer them? He lists off six reasons why he believes the U.S. keeps doing this. One reason that stuck out to me was the idea of pseudo certification. Bob says that Americans are obsessed with a concrete number that can show our intelligence. This is not true at all! People all have different levels of test-taking skills, and the number you receive on a SAT or ACT does not always accurately describe your intelligence. Another reason he brings up is the fact that people have been taking very similar tests for hundreds of years. Nobody wants to change the way we test, so we just continue to administer them. Bob then moves into part two of his speech about how we can change these tests. He worked on a research project called the Rainbow Project. The scientists developed a new exam asking questions to analyze the students creative, analytical, and practical skills instead of simply testing a students analytical skills. After testing this new type of exams in various colleges all over the United States, the team found that they could accurately double the prediction of students’ success in their first year, cut ethnic group differences in half, and saw a clear difference between students who excelled better creatively than analytically. People generally liked this new type of exam much better than the typical ACT or SAT because colleges looked at the undergrad as a whole rather than as a test score number.

I think this video really enlightened me. I had no idea some colleges were beginning to offer this new type of exam that better “tested” the students’ skills and abilities. I think this is a great move in the right direction, and many more schools should begin to administer these tests. The only thing is, if more students are being let in who did better creatively than analytically, the professors at the schools better start teaching in new/ different ways. Usually, in my experience, people who are more creative learn in different ways, like with diagrams or more hands-on activities, rather than people who can learn simply by being told something. While I did pretty well on my SATs, my cousin did not. She is so smart, but in ways some schools would not be able to see because they just looked at her low SAT score. People learn in different ways, and people take tests differently. When I was working in a second-grade classroom, I noticed that some students could answer multiple-choice questions very easily, but other students struggled. I had to sit down with the struggling students and read aloud every answer. I asked them the question, and they knew the correct answer without even listening to the options. My guess is that these students know the information, but get overwhelmed with all of the options and have test anxiety. If asked the same question in person, and not on a test, the students still knew the right answer. I cannot wait to see what the future holds. Hopefully my second graders will not have to suffer through taking the SATs and receiving a low score. Hopefully they will be able to take a test more suitable for their learning methods, and will succeed at the school of their dreams. 

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Is Education Broken? The Problem with US Standardized Testing in Public Schools | The Digital Media Diet

Is Education Broken? The Problem with US Standardized Testing in Public Schools | The Digital Media Diet | Standardized Testing | Scoop.it

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela

 

Last night Jayne Clare from TeachersWithApps held their EdAppTalk on Facebook to discuss standardized testing in US schools for 2nd-11th graders, based on their recent post, “Isn’t it TIME to Stand Up Against Standardized Testing?” It made me realize it is also time for me share my concerns and why I would like to see test reform in our schools as soon as possible. I have come to the realization that it will require real protest from parents and will be opting my own child out of testing when he enters 2nd grade next year. While this is not a typical ‘digital media’ topic, it does impact everything happening in the world of education and apps.


Via Carisa Kluver
Meleny Weber's insight:

I chose this blog entry mainly because of the picture/diagram with facts about standardized testing.  The blog entry is written by a mother who has who has done her research, and who has participated in several online discussion boards with other parents and teachers.  She is against the idea of standardized testing, not testing all together, but she hates the way it is implemented in today’s classrooms. Overall she pretty much agrees with everyone else out there. She believes that students should be tested on more than just the typical analytical questions. It only really shows a fraction of the student’s knowledge and learning capability. Oddly enough, she uses the same metaphor, relating the students to guinea pigs, as the other article I wrote about does. This shows the a very wide variety of people, from different backgrounds and ages feel that standardized testing is absolutely not an adequate way to identify how intelligent a student is. She writes in her blog that she does not want her children to have to go through the standardized testing. I am curious as to how she is going to get around that. Perhaps, she will remove her child from public schools and enter them into a private institution with the same beliefs about testing. Maybe she could send her child to a place that practices un-schooling, a type of school that is very free, and lets the students learn whatever they want however they want. The sad part is that most of the administrators and teachers in public schools across the nation do not agree with standardized tests either. We still make students take them because there is not a better method out there.

The diagram commands the readers’ attention right away with its layout and bright colors. While it does not have any hardcore statistics and numbers, it has eight different reasons why standardized tests are not good. One reason that I have not seen in other articles is the fact that test scores can vary from day to day. A student can be having a very bad day and as a result do poorly on the test that he or she would have otherwise done well on. The room the test is given in could be very cold, and therefore could be a distraction to the test-takers. Another reason standardized tests are bad is that the tests are not subjective. There are people that write the questions, and choose the “correct” answer. On many exams there is a question that asks to choose the “best” answer. What if the best answer to a student is different from the best answer according to the test writer? These are only two of many reasons why a standardized test is a poor measurement of one’s knowledge. The thing that confuses me is why nobody has thought of a new plan instead of the continuing to hand out tests that help nobody. Something needs to change, and it should not be solely up to the students. Everyone needs to work together and help the future kids. Maybe when I am a teacher I will see a different view of standardized testing. 

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Carisa Kluver's curator insight, April 26, 2013 1:27 PM

An explanation of why I plan to 'opt out' my child from standardized testing ...