Friday, October 31, 2008

What's right and wrong with Standardised tests?

Standardised testing is a hot topic amongst teachers. Why? Because teachers know that tests only offer one measure of ability and progress. They also know that they can be helpful by informing teachers and parents about student performance and aiding good instruction. But they can also be misleading and can be used to unfairly label children, teachers and schools. Standardised tests can also lead to some unfortunate practices, the most problematic being the practice of teaching to the test. Parent groups, business leaders and politicians often see tests as a magic bullet, ensuring that their children are taught well and that they make good progress. They also see this as an accountability issue and see the resistance of teachers to testing as an indication that they don't want to be accountable. It is right for parents, business and the wider community to want schools to be accountable, but standardised tests are just one tool for achieving this outcome.

Harvard University professor Daniel Koretz has just published a new book on testing. Koretz's book, Measuring Up was published recently by Harvard University Press. There have been some interesting reviews of the book as well as a couple of good interviews with the author which are helpful.

I intend to read the Koretz book and will do another post on this topic but Anthony Cody offers some insights into some of the significant points that Koretz makes. Cody spent 18 years as a science teacher in inner-city Oakland, California. He now works with a team of experienced science teacher-coaches who support the many novice teachers in his school district.

You can read Cody's post here.

You can also read an interview with Koretz on the Harvard University website

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