Sunday, February 11, 2024

So what do the Big Standardized Tests (h/t Peter Greene) actually measure?

Once again by way of Peter Greene, 

this time in Forbes:

(You get a few free ones. After that, one word: Firefox.)

In his excellent Research Shows What State Standardized Tests Actually Measure, Peter Greene (@palan57 on Xitter) writes about a new study, The Pernicious Predictability of State-Mandated Tests of Academic Achievement in the United States,”from Jamil Maroun and Christopher Tienken

To no thinking person's surprise, the researchers found what teachers have been saying forever, all the while pounding the table and our heads against the wall: Big Standardized Tests do not measure what the testing cartels say that they measure. These tests don't measure what students have learned in school, or how effective teachers are. So what do they measure?

Here's Greene quoting Maroun and Tienken:

Students utilize their background knowledge to establish connections, infer meanings, and aid their overall comprehension of the text.

"The key concept is background knowledge," writes Greene. "We’ve long known that background knowledge is directly related to reading comprehension." Yes. Yes we have.

When it comes to test scores, we can literally follow the money. 

Greene quotes Professor Tienken:

“The tests are not measuring how much students learned or can learn,” says Tienken. “They are predominately measuring the family and community capital of the student.”

It's a splendid read with several links to supporting studies and additional material. Greene highlights the impact that access to resources and social capital has on test scores and notes the widespread misuse of test data. He finishes with this:

Education centered around high-stakes testing has been pushing schools down the wrong road for twenty-some years. This study is a reminder that by generating data that does actually says far more about a school’s demographics than its effectiveness.

Yes. Yes it does. 


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