An earlier post predicted that the faux reforms of the day will collapse like a house of cards when the public realizes the damage done to children and the quality of education. This reader says that the tests that are the foundation for all of the current education reforms–like merit pay and evaluation by scores–are fundamentally and irreparably flawed.
Queue the Kafka indeed! I’ve worked in the educational publishing industry for years, and I have had occasion to read hundreds of state tests. Almost every test that I have read has been RIDDLED with errors–was so full of errors that it looked like some sort of rough draft. Often, the errors on the state tests are such that the officially correct answer is actually incorrect. Here’s an example:
“There are 8 apples on a table. If you take away 2 apples, how many apples do you have?”
The answer is supposed to be “six,” but, of course, the answer to the question that was actually asked is “two.”
I have a standing bet that I can take any one of these state standardized tests and find at least ten errors in it. It’s a bet I’ve never lost. These tests are really sloppily prepared, and as the experience of the teacher in this video indicates, there is little accountability for their quality.
However, the problem runs much deeper than the editorial vetting of the exams. The biggest problem with them is that the supposed research adduced by the testing companies to support the validity and reliability of their tests is a lot of smoke and mirrors. A test of reading ability is like a test on “ability to make one’s way in the world.” What’s being tested is extraordinarily vague, broad, and complex. Suppose that one tested driving ability by giving people an exam that looked at their ability to identify car parts–to distinguish, say, a hub cap from a windshield wiper. Such a test would be very like the state exams that we give to test reading ability.