Re: grades

Steve Krause (skrause@BGNET.BGSU.EDU)
Thu, 29 Aug 1996 11:17:30 -0400

On Thu, 29 Aug 1996, Michael J. Salvo wrote:

> it seems to refer back to the discussion of standardized testing -- how much
> money is spent *by* ETS and related companies to develop tests, spent by
> students and their families *to* ETS, to groups like Kaplan, Princeton
> Review, and even stuff like cliff's notes and monarch notes? with all the
> apperatii of testing implicated, is portfolio grading still three or five or
> ten times the price?

Of course it is! ETS et al spend zillions of dollars developing tests of
all sorts, that's true, but it's a lot easier for a school to just buy
the number of "units" it needs for its student body than to go out and
develop its own. How does ETS do it? The same way the General Motors
does, of course-- volume, volume, volume! And the analogy might be worth
noting here too: it's a lot cheaper to buy a car from your GM dealer
than to build your own. And it's a lot easier too.

I agree that we ought to resist these assessment tools, especially when
it comes to assessing writing and reading skills, and especially if we're
trying assess the skills of entering students (ie, figuring out what
version of fy comp students should take). But dollars and cents are
still a key issue here. And it also seems to me that the powers that be
(the ones who get to decide on the testing method) must also be convinced
in some fashion that alternative methods are somehow more "accurate" than
the traditional methods. Portfolios might have more "face validity" in
some sense and I think they're a much more useful tool than the numbers
that computer that reads the little pencil-marked bubbles, but convincing
those who make the decisions that portfolios are more accurrate. If I
recall, Ed White makes a pretty good argument about this in his book on
assment methods, though I can't remember the title of that book now...

Steve Krause * Department of English * Southern Oregon State College
Ashland, OR
(Despite the fact that I still have several BGSU computer accounts...)