Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Test scores too good to be true?

Great Schools blog' s post "When adults cheat" was commenting on the USA Today article "When test scores seem too good to believe." While the focus was on a particular teacher who essentially gave his students a preview of the state skills tests, it also pointed out other areas of concern at the teacher's school.

"In several grades, standardized test scores [. . .] fluctuated year to year, sometimes rising sharply, then falling."  The "gains and losses are typical of a pattern uncovered by a USA TODAY investigation of the standardized tests of millions of students in six states and the District of Columbia."

The USA Today piece is well written and informative. I wonder how Oregon would fare if USA Today took a look at them? I wrote "Closing the achievement gap" pointing out the interesting test scores at one particular school. Although I was wondering about the accuracy of the testing and teaching methodology - the USA Today story raises another issue - adults cheating to raise scores.

Of course proponents and opponents of standardized testing had their say. Certainly, testing is not infallible especially when money and school and teacher reputations are on the line. But it seems absolutely necessary that standardized tests be utilized to measure students' educational achievement. It is important to take note that while students are tested - it is the teachers and schools that are being evaluated.

Great School Blog saw it this way: "Yet the whole episode bolsters the argument that when we prioritize test scores above all else, the emphasis on learning can get hopelessly lost. Both the gospel of testing and fraudulent score-boosting tactics share something in common: Either way, kids get cheated, one bubble at a time."

Their prioritization point is well taken - but how else is society to determine the value of education?

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