Why we should rely more on standardized testing … NOT!


The SAT’s aren’t what they used to be even as more and more politicians and people who know little about education clammor for more high stakes testing to determine how good a job teachers are doing.

According to the most recent SAT, it would be good for teachers to put away Shakespeare and focus on reality TV.

A number of students who took the latest SAT were a little shocked to find one of the writing prompts asking them to write about the legitimacy of reality television … a problem because more than a few top students don’t watch much TV, and if they are, they are avoiding the Kardashians, Osbournes, and the supposedly Real World.

A few described a moment of genuine panic when they read the prompt and, despite having prepared some mental outlines on a particular work of literture or two, suddenly found themselves between a rock and a hard place when the prompt asked them to write about something completely non-academic and something that they had taken zero time to prepare for.

I wonder how many folks who support high stakes testing would allow some of these kids to take a mulligan?  Too bad in NCLB testing there are no second chances.


2 Responses to Why we should rely more on standardized testing … NOT!

  1. Alan P says:

    This one doesn’t bother me so much. I agree, I prefer to avoid the television. Based on the description of the test question, it does not seem intended to evaluate the test-taker’s knowledge of reality TV. I think a test-taker could take the information presented, pose a logical argument, and skillfully present that in writing. And whether or not the response is “correct” (this is an opinion-type question), the good test-taker should be able to write about it.

  2. teganx7 says:

    However … the ability to make a reasoned argument is based somewhat on having facts on hand. This is part of the reason why AP English teachers advise students to make sure that they have one piece of legit literature fully at their command so that when they sit down to answer essay questions on the AP test, they can make a more reasoned response to any question on literature … they have certain facts (characters, plot, themes, etc) in memory to draw from.

    I could easily see that a kid who has no familiarity wit a particular topic entering into apoplectic shock …. they have tried to prepare for most logical outcomes (a question about historic or current events, about a piece of literature, perhaps even a work of art), and instead get blindsided by something that was impossible to prepare thoroughly for unless you spent some time watching reality TV. At the very least, I would feel cheated and let down by the ETS’ decision to base an entire question on pop culture …. at the worst, I would consider this part of the test a sham and a fraud. I think the latter is an extreme case, but I can see kids thinking that way.

    Things like this send kids into such a tizzy that they will not be performing at their potential.

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