Re: grades

Dave Lewis (dkl@IWAYNET.NET)
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 00:15:08 -0400

>by and large, i suspect that most classes are taught to succeed on the final
>exam and most schools geared towards achieving high SAT or AP exam scores.
>driving home from tech's campus this afternoon, i passed a sign that read
>"congratulations, coronado, for the highest PASS scores in texas." i've
>learned that PASS is the rough equivalent of a huge regents exam, or a high
>school exit exam -- and, like the SAT and the new york state tests, measures
>how well the beaurocracy of the school system creates the product of high
>test scores. doesn't matter what the schools do or teach; are the ^&%$*&@#
>scores high!

Precisely. Y'all wouldn't believe how much money, time, and effort is
*wasted* trying to improve proficiency test statistics among school
districts in Ohio (and, I suspect, other States). We must waste an tenth of
the school year just in *taking* these damned tests -- let alone in
preparing for them.

<very good things snipped>

>in working for the perceived best interests of students, school systems
>undermine the classroom experience and encourage (and all too often enforce)
>teaching to the exam, and the publisher that gets their books to reflect
>testing norms gets their books in the classroom.

Amen. Curricula are re-written to teach to the tests (which, have I
mentioned?) don't even test what they purport to test for.

>it's such a pathetic situation. and apparently hopeless, i sometimes think.
>i felt like i should die, literally, rather than do poorly on the SAT when i
>was 16. i took the GRE twice and, while i didn;t study either time, felt
>like i *should* be preparing in some way -- and lost sleep. i *knew* that
>my future was, in part, going to be decided by sitting for ONE test on ONE
>day for a few lousy hours. nice way of deciding a human being's potential,
>i think NOT.

I also say NOT!

>and i think that, ultimately, we educate this way because it offers a simple
>and easy way to cull applicants -- it's a part of the factory model. we
>need(ed) a way to catagorize and classify large numbers of people looking
>for long-term emplyment doing similar things in similar companies in similar
>grey-flannell power suits.

Nick refered to the "frenzy for measurement" in fashion nowadays (thanks
for the pointer to the AFT site, BTW, Nick). While I may be getting
pessimistic in my dotage, I think the use of the measurements is most often
economic. We require the numbers generated by doing the statistics on the
scores of the standardized tests to justify spending or not spending money
on given programs. "We gave you a million dollars to do X, but your scores
didn't improve, so you'll not be getting any more!"

>but our post-industrial society doesn't need this any more, or at least i
>suspect (and hope) that this means of catagorization is less applicable --
>educators have little sense of what's *needed* by culture so why should our
>evaluative criteria be valued. we have to develop new means of *teaching*
>-- and i think that the evaluation can be let go more and more. i'm
>beginning to feel that eric's right: baby out with the bathwater. maybe
>we'll wake up from this testing/grading nightmare.

Thanks for the great post, Mike!


Dave Lewis | Don't be afraid to take a big step.
Educational Technology Specialist | You can't cross a chasm in two small | jumps. -David Lloyd George