Day 152 (of 188) thoughts on standardized tests, report cards & their glass ceiling -thanks to @iamjohnoliver

Day 152 (of 188) thoughts on standardized tests, report cards & their glass ceiling -thanks to @iamjohnoliver

So, I got a Twitter recommendation: Watch this epic take on Standardized Testing by @iamjohnoliver
And I watched. And I thought – this is good. And then I started thinking…
First re Standardized Tests. I’m not against them. But I am “for” their being used in a mindful manner. To test for learning challenges, giftedness, etc – tests of a ‘standard’ to make comparisons for a select group(s) of students to help understand and support their learning journey pathway. 
But – one size fits all? Everyone has to do the same task? Next time I need to create a multiple choice test I’m going to make them all “B” – statistically as valid as having a variety of responses….from a certain point of view (as Obi Wan Kenobi said – and yesterday was May the Fourth be with you & today is Revenge of the Fifth). 
Second re Report Cards. Had a student today indicate that he thinks that he would/will prefer to get report cards rather than the eportfolios we are currently using, but the middle school he will go to next year, won’t. And based on task completion and memory/repetition, he will play ‘the game of school’ very well. But I worry he will fall into the same trap as my oldest is experiencing….
The glass ceiling of report cards. My biggest take away (that I shared with my daughter on our commute to her zone basketball practice) from John Olivers fabulous rant was that of a learner who needed to score higher than was possible on a test in order to ‘meet expectations’. I broke it down for my daughter (ok – for me) – based on her current/past achievements, for her to “meet” (not exceed) expectations, she would need to score 105% on the test – do perfect on the test, write extra questions and get those right as well….just to be “meeting expectations” – not a descriptor we usually use for “A” students and not doing good for her esteem -100+% is what is ‘expected’ anything less is….. (but then again, the report card grading system was ‘borrowed’ from the meat industry: )
And my daughter is also experiencing a ‘glass ceiling’ thanks to report cards. Based on our parent-teacher meetings, there’s not much she needs to work on. In grade 9.  Sigh. We were able to encourage her teachers to think about her presentation skills as she doesn’t like being in front of her peers. But….report card wise she’s “raced to the top”, made it and ……
Staying average (for her) becomes her goal in ‘the game of school’? Because really when you have reached a high level, there’s no where to go but down….because standardized tests and report cards have a ‘maximum height’ (even though I know of many students who have achieved 112% – which I’m sure makes assessment experts like @kenoc7 shudder) but methodologies that track learning journeys like eportfolios know no ‘end game’. The learning journey is personalized. We can use standardized tests and/or performance standards (our preferred approach) to compare to  grade/age comparison – to know if compared to other similar students where their work compares – and helps build descriptive feedback on where to go next… 100% really the best learning target?
I’m glad my province does not have a ‘testing season’ for every learner – but thanks to John Oliver I am now thinking more on standardized tests: who creates them; who marks them; and what happens to them.  Just the tip of the thinking-iceberg so far…


About technolandy

Educator in BCs Sunny Shuswap Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback
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