Standardized Testing

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Apr 8, 2002.

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  1. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Is standardized testing in schools a good thing or a bad thing (or in a grey area)?

    I say it is a bad thing in general.
  2. Double_Sting Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2001
    star 4
    i have to leave now, but I'll be back later :)
  3. Cailina Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 1999
    star 4
    If you mean things like the SATs than I'd say yes they are a good thing. After all for college and such you need some way to compare kids from different schools. If you just went by GPA that would be extremely unfair considering that an A in one school could be the equivalent of a B in another depending on the difficulty of the school system.
  4. Amidala-Leia Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2002
    star 4
    I see good and bad points. It's good in addition to GPA as an evaluator of a student's academic ability. I do, however, see a problem in schools when they use it as a determinant of whether or not a student will be able to graduate. Where I went to high school, we had profiency tests that were necessary to graduate. Even if your GPA was good enough, you still had to pass the test if you wanted to graduate. I'm not too big of a fan of that type of testing. Some students are not good test takers.
  5. Rogue_Solo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2001
    star 3
    I think that standardized testing is pure evil. Of course, I'm the one who has to waste around twelve hours that I could be using to learn something useful. A few weeks before the tests, the teachers start teaching stop following curriculum and start teaching us how to take the test and get high scores, because if the school does poorly, funding will be cut. It doesn't help us asses anything about my school or my skill level at all. After all the testing is over with, I get back a sheet of paper for each section (math, reading, and writing) with three boxes, one each for above average, average, and below average. There is a check in the box with the level you performed at. I never see the test again. SATs, ACTs have some use because they help you get into college and they show you your score out of a certain amount.
  6. Amidala-Leia Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2002
    star 4
    The most ignorant question ever on a standardized test. Think in realistic terms.

    What is the size of a really large
    orange?

    a. 8 oz.
    b. 8 yd.
    c. 8 meters
    d. 8 tons
  7. Double_Sting Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2001
    star 4
    See I think we need to differentiate here.

    There are two different types of standardized tests.

    Category 1: The Admissions Tests
    Examples: SAT, ACT
    Description: These are tests that are used by colleges as part of the admissions criteria. That is the only implications that they have.

    Category 2: School Proficiency Tests
    Examples: Almost all state sponsored tests
    Description: These are tests that are used by the state to determine if a school/city/district is living up to the expected educational standards. Here funding can be an issue as it can be cut for a district which fails to pass a certain number of students.

    --------------------------------------------

    I believe that Category 1 tests are a necessity. It is impossible otherwise for a college to find out the relative skill level of two students from different high schools.

    GPA doesn't cut it. A 4.0 in one school could be the equivalent of a 3.7 in another school, but there is no way for a college that is 1000 miles away to know this.

    So standardized tests have to be used to find out the relative ability of students.

    Yes some argue that it doesn't test special abilities and the like. But students who have those can get in the school through other means. They don't reject basketball players because they have low scores (unless it is below NCAA rules) and they don't reject students exceptionally skilled in art because of test scores either. It just makes it more difficult for the student.

    And for the most part, standardized tests are pretty accurate. If you get a 20 on the ACT or a 800 on the SAT, the chances are 99% that you aren't going to cut it at a school like MIT. They are not perfect, but they are constantly being improved.

    They also serve as a screening method. Schools recieve enormous numbers of applications every year. They have to select the best people out of those applications. And they don't have the time and money to sort through every single one of them (remember, a college is a business).

    So standardized test scores serve as an initial screening to filter down the number of applications so the selection process is simplified.

    As for the Category 2 tests, I am not sure about these. I think they are a good idea because they make schools somewhat accountable for teaching properly. But at the same time they cause teachers to teach differently and the like so they are a negative influence as well.

    So I think they should be eliminated until the method for implementing them is improved, because right now I think they are serving as a negative.
  8. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    I should clarify my position. I think admissions tests are, for the most part, okay. I think there could be some major refining in some cases, but the idea is fine, and the practice often is as well.

    Category 2 (in your words) are a waste of time, and oftentimes are dangerous to the well being and learning of students.
  9. Double_Sting Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2001
    star 4
    I agree with you KnightWriter.

    I agree Category 1 are not perfect, but they are improving.

    The reasoning behind having Category 2 is sound, but the implementation of how it is carried out is wrong.
  10. IellaWessiriNRI Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2001
    star 4
    The idea is good, sure... evaluate the student's academic ability. The reality, however, is that people go crazy over these things. They think that a SAT score of 1600 is absolutely necessary to go to a good college, and that if they don't prep like crazy, their entire lives will be ruined. Sheesh.
  11. Double_Sting Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2001
    star 4
    If you think college entrance exams are 'tough' here, try living in any other country in the world.

    Compared to those from other countries, the SAT and ACT are cakewalks.
  12. Palpazzar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2000
    star 4
    It can go both ways; good or bad. I am most concerned with the labelling and self-fulfilling prophecy effects. However, overall such testing is needed in schools and the workplace too as others have said.
  13. MynDonos Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 30, 2002
    star 3
    For those of you who may not know, in Florida for the past few years there has been an evil standardized test called the FCAT, standing for "Florida Comprehensive Asessment Test." Words cannot describe the hatred I, my fellow students, all the teachers, and all the administrators from the principle on up, in every school in the state, have for this test. A few facts about it:
    1-if the FCAT isnt passed in 10th grade, the student doesnt pass high school.
    2- if a particular school does well on this fcat, they get extra funding.
    3- Those two factors above contribute to the schools going complete insane all year long about the FCAT. For one thing, they are obsessed with making as many students pass it as is humanly possible in order for the greedy bas****s to get a bit more funding. Also, with slightly less concern proportional to the funding point, they dont want us to fail high school.
    4- because of those three factors, it comes down to this- at least four weeks a year at irregular intervals for indefinate amounts of time, the English, Math, and Science departments have to devote 100% of their class time to preparation for the FCAT. That means the teachers drop whatever lesson plan they had for the day, or the whole bloody week for that matter, and start teaching FCAT material. One full week at a time, at least four weeks a year, usually a couple months apart.
    5- FCAT testing day- takes up three days, 3 full hours of testing in the morning, and since the morning classes are lost, 99% of the teachers do not have lessons planned so as not to leave their morning classes behind. Hence three more full days of school missed.
    6-All junior classmen, ie 9th and 10th graders take the test on those testing days, the 10th grade takes the 'real thing' and the freshmen take the practice. You know what the juniors and seniors do in the morning? they sit on their asses in their morning classes in one set room for all three days, so as 'not to disturb us taking the FCAT.' That means that the whole school loses 3 days, not just the testers.
    7- the FCAT is the easiest test I have ever taken in my entire life. Not even the test a psychologist administered to me in order to determine if I was mentally fit to handle the stress of the highly acedemic environment that is known as 'Gifted Classes.' I laugh at the thought of my classes being gifted; clown college isnt that pathetic. Needless to say i passed that test, by the way. Anyway, this FCAT is the easiest thing in the world for most people, everyone I talk to at least, so it is offically a waste of time for a vast majority of students.
    8- America is already the laughing stock of the world, educationally speaking. We dont need to waste four weeks on a stupid test that everyone passes.
    9- That stupid governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the one who thought up this great FCAT, and the state legislature is the one who keeps it in business. The board of education I believe. Anyway, Jeb Bush, in his bid for power, has attempted to gain confidence by helping the states children by furthering this education. You know how he proves that he is helping education? he makes a standardized test and sees how many people pass, then after one year, he sees how many MORE people pass. Heres the real kicker, you know what ELSE he did? He made the second test infinately easier than the first. This isnt a big secret, its not a conspiracy, and its not my speculations. Its true. He makes the test easier, and claims to the world, or whoever is insane enough to listen to the little mongrol, that he increased education in Florida. Magically, his ratings go up. Sneaky SOB.
    10- this doesn't exactly have much to do with standardized testing directly, but the Florida legislature, in their "infinite lack of wisdom" (to quote my science teacher) has just made a funding cut to the school systems, in order to make up for lost capital in the wake of the overrated terrorist attack that the whole country, minus at least one person, is terrified over. So the school board, in an attempt to
  14. The_Dork_Side Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2001
    star 1
    I too am a FL student who has been subjected to this FCAT (or FCAP) phenomen. I was in a private school until the 7th grade and I did the whole CTBS deal which was just a formality and such then in 7th I was introduced to the horrors of FCAT.

    I am one of those "gifted" kids and got 94% and up in all my FCAT subjects the 3 years I have taken it. Like stated above me the teachers devote too much time to the testing. It's bubbling in a scantron sheet!!! Then there is the endless FLWrites prep. This is the 5 paragraph essay which is administered to 8th and 10th graders to see if you can write a coherent sentence. They tell you what to write to get a 6 (perfect score) I got a 6 on it in 8th grade because I wrote exactly what the judges wanted. I'm in 9th grade and took the evil test again and waited and waited. They give too much time, i get so much sleep on fcat days. I actually brought a pillow for the 2ed day. My school got good scores in all stuff except reading last year so because of that we have a "c" rating thus giving us poor funding and made fun of by the other schools. Many students do ok on this easy test but the rest just don't care and cheese-bomb it because they are lazy.

    Luckily I just have 1 more year and then I am done. Down with FCAT! Oddly enough the state has little funding but the FCAT budget was not cut whereas teachers don't get raises, hiring freeze and no money for anything new. Yet they can write "blank page" on an empty page of the test book.
  15. IAmTheDarkSide Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 9, 2002
    star 4
    I think they're get, but alone they're not sufficient to learn anything. They need to be supplemented by other information to be of worth.
  16. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    The problem with standardized testing is that they don't truly demonstrate anything but how well you take tests. Those who have done well with standardized tests typically argue for them, and those who have done poorly typically argue against them... essentially because of whether or not the test helped that individual gain something, but not on the grounds of what the test intends to measure vs. what it really measures.

    Standardized testing appears meaningful, but skews kids chances of getting a good education which they may cognitively be fully capable of digesting, learning and eventually applying, but our gradeschools don't have uniform standards of classroom education. No one regularly puts educators through standardized tests to make sure their knowledge and methodologies of teaching are uniform. Standardized testing helps ensure that those kids who were fortunate enough to go to a school, public or private, which had the means, the funds, to arm those kids with the ability to score very well on those tests, will get into better post-secondary institutions.

    How about testing the adminstration and faculty of every school to make sure they know what the hell they're doing? How about testing guidance counselors to make sure they're on the same page and not just doling out their individual interpretations of which student is good at what. Many other industries require employees to get certifications and recertifications... but education now seems to be a low priority. The responsibility is put entirely on the student instead of the community, to be able to somehow divine themselves into an intelligent, educated, productive member of society. While I support autodidactic methods of learning, schools contradict themselves by first spoonfeeding our children information, expecting them to figure out how to apply it, and then testing them with standardized tests the "ingenuity" for which we pride ourselves as if we'd done good enough of a job to arm them with good education in the first place.
  17. Wedges_Wingman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 11, 2001
    star 2
    Just a question : are all these standardised tests multiple choice?

    Obviously, some level of exam technique goes towards how you do on a standardised test, but then again you will be tested at university, so you really need to learn this anyway.
    I do not believe that standardised tests are really necessary except for entrance level requirement type tests (secondary school stream, school-leaving qualifications etc.). Much rather it is up to the school to set tests that will teach the students and guide them in their exam technique and syllabus to help them pass the final exams mentioned above.

    -J
  18. MynDonos Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 30, 2002
    star 3
    The Dork Side- I'm shocked at how similar our experiences have been, it was like i was reading an academic history of my last three or four years in school- private school until seventh grade, introduced to FCAT (i COMPLETELY forgot about the Florida Writes test in that 'little' list of horrors up there) and immediately detested it.
    Contrary to a statement above, I forget who said it, almost all of the people I know get perfect, or near perfect scores on the FCAT and still hate it; so the notion that the people who do well support it and those who do poorly do not. The people who do well actually dislike it even more, because they can acknowledge how little bearing it has on their academics.
  19. Barbara Fett Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 23, 1999
    star 3
    because if the school does poorly, funding will be cut.

    That's one of my least favorite thing about standardized testing. There really must be a better way to determine the amount of money schools get.

    I live in California, the standardized test capital of the world. (In fact, we have them for two weeks starting next week.) I didn't know until just now that Florida had the same obsession with standardized tests. Must be the heat. ;) :D
  20. Dacks Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2001
    star 2
    I will openly say that SAT scores mean absolutely nothing anyway. The big schools only care about money: how much ya got and how much your parents donated. Well at least for international students.
  21. tenorjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2000
    star 5
    It's got it's good points and it's bad. I would say they are inheritantly flawed. There are too many variables, and while a teacher has a set curiculum, some are better than others in certain subjects or areas of the same subject. For instance in American History we spent a full month on the civil war alone and paroused through 1940-1990 in one month.

    On the other hand, you are expected to learn certain facts and information and the ability to understand how to read the questions. And there has to be a standard to judge student learning.

    As for funding being determined by the tests, I would suggest taht those schools scoring lwoer receive additional support from the state in exchange for audits and some intervention from the state.
  22. Dark Lady Mara Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 1999
    star 7
    "The big schools only care about money: how much ya got and how much your parents donated."

    I'll say from my personal experience that that is totally, totally, totally not true.
  23. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Tenor, your spelling took a dive there. :p.

    I agree about the good points and bad points, although I think there are more bad ones than good ones, and that it is flawed from the beginning.
  24. Dacks Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2001
    star 2
    Please Mara, quote my whole post next time.

    The big schools only care about money: how much ya got and how much your parents donated. Well at least for international students.
  25. Dark Lady Mara Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 1999
    star 7
    In the experience of many of my international friends, that isn't true either. I'm not sure where you're coming from, but it sounds like your university is screwing you over big time. At most American universities, qualified international students can get scholarships and fellowships the same as anyone else. Your test scores are more important numbers than your mommy and daddy's salary.
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