Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

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Snowdream
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Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Snowdream » Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:59 am UTC

Hiya's all!

I'm sure all of us have taken a Standardized test before? The SAT's, PSAT's, ACT'S, Regents, ELA's, LAST, ATS, CST, CAT's, RCT, Etc... What do you think of these tests? I personally am against standardized tests, especially high stakes testing. I feel that it's inauthentic, and doesn't actually challenge a students learning in any way, other than rote memorization. I have noticed many people who will fail miserably on true tests, but can score a 100, or A on a Multiple choice exam with little effort. Or that sometimes people will do well on S-tests that aim at say; Kinesthetic learners who do well, and Math-logic students will fail -- And I ask myself; How is that fair?

This of course brings up a greater question; are there alternatives to standardized tests? Do Standardized tests fill their intended role? What are the inequalities inherent in the tests? Are these inequalities perceived, or real? And are these Inherent inequalities simply to be expected? Or is there a better form of assessment that we aren't implementing?

And a million other questions... thoughts, opinions, idea's?
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Savvycow » Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:05 am UTC

I have found these kinds of tests extremely simple. I mean, we have the same format for everything at my high school (our school is basically a training ground for the SAT and ACT tests, not much else)

I don't really have a gripe about it myself (thanks to this standard, I have gotten "Proficiency in Consumer Education" on a short 3 period test which means I don't need to take a class), but I know that people like my brother (he was a Salutatorian at my school) struggle with those multiple choice tests like no other.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby mrayner » Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:09 am UTC

I feel like standardized tests negatively effect what and how much teachers teach in the classroom. I know several weeks at my elementary school and even high school would be spent on prepping for the standardized test. The purpose of standardized tests are to make sure we're learning comparable material in the classroom and all leveled out, but setting a bar like that really prevents classes from advancing. I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, teachers that just teach their subject and hope the kids to well on the test regardless, but where I came from-- every time there was a standardized test coming up our learning would stop and we would take practice tests to make sure we can pass this test.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Resilient » Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:28 pm UTC

I think the thing that is really needed before this conversation can truly be had is a definition of the goals of standardized testing.

Is it to measure the takers understanding of material that the taker needs to know? Is it to measure the takers aptitude to excel at a university? Is it to measure the takers "intelligence" in general? Is it to simply get a baseline to determine what is average during any given year?

Until there is a clear understanding of what its trying to measure, its hard to say if it successful in measuring it.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby lorenith » Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:27 pm UTC

Well standardized tests in Texas (I think it's called the TAKS now or something, my class was the lucky one that had to test it, even though we had all already tested out via the TAAS, if we didn't "test" the TAKS test out we would be automatically failed even though the score we got on it didn't matter since the scoring was being fine tuned!)

Anyway, the TAAS test, and the newer TAKS is supposed to test the students knowledge, if you fail it you can't graduate, even if you pass all your classes. Also it is used to tell whether the school is doing a good job, and decides how funding works.

The general consensus from every teacher I've talked to is "waste of time" because it takes a whole week of class time away making people take the test. The students that have already passed it just don't have to come to school, the rest are trapped in a room for most of the day and aren't allowed to leave till everyone in the building is finished with whatever portion is being done on that day. Anyone that cannot finish the test in the time given has to finish it in the Library, meaning anyone that finishes quickly better have a book or game boy, and not be twitchy cause you aren't allowed to move around for HOURS.

I don't know how early they start administering practice tests but it's early, my sister had to take one in elementary school, they administer practice tests every school year too so whatever grade she was in when she first took it she would have been taking a practice test every year after that, the first year I lived in Texas and had to take them it was the exact same test every year in middle school, with a new test every time one in highschool. (The official TAAS was taken at the sophmore level, the TAKS was officially taken at the junior level if I recall).

Teacher hate it because it forces them to dedicate time to the material, even if it may not be part of the curriculum because the class is advanced beyond it, or is behind it. They also hate it because some people just don't take tests well, and to pile all the stress of IF YOU FAIL THIS ONE TEST YOU CANNOT GRADUATE on them will just make it worse.

The writing portion is shit too, I know this because my sister is an amazing writer, she's now going to a special writing school in California, she had to apply to get entry, and receive scholarships to get into this school. But the last time she took the writing exam while she still lived in Texas they failed her and the teacher had to contest it because they knew she was a great writer.

So yeah, standardized testing at least the kind Texas does is pointless if you ask me.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Flying Betty » Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:45 am UTC

In New York, we have Regents exams which are standardized tests that serve as the finals for most high school courses. When I was there, they were in the process of raising the standards for high school students, which appeared to mean that everyone had to pass a certain number of Regents, and they made the exams easier so that they could still graduate enough people. Before that you could get a Regents or a non Regents diploma, though if you didn't get the Regents diploma you weren't going to get into college, basically. (Note: this is all ~8+ years out of date and I haven't been back in the state in about 5 years. Maybe it changed)

There were some good points- they did provide a decent framework for the sort of things that high school students should know. But I noticed, particularly in the advanced classes, that the bad teachers taught directly to the exams while the good teachers taught us what they thought we should know which tended to go a fair amount beyond what was on the test and give us a much better education.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:01 am UTC

I don't have a problem with SAT or ACT-type college entrance exams. They are perfectly reasonable, and I can't see how anyone thinks they rely solely on memorization (although there are a few things you do have to memorize for it, as in life, too bad).

I do have a problem with NCLB-type tests that are supposed to bring a whole classroom up to the same level. They rely on the assumption that all students can be held to a certain level of achievement, and, well, some people are just stupid or unsuited for college education. The education system should be much more focused on sending students down the "track" that they have proved themselves best suited for, instead of sending everyone to a 4-year college, which is completely unnecessary for some careers, (even though the modern cultural climate makes it that way).
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby 0xBADFEED » Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:36 pm UTC

Repost of a shortened version of a post I made in another thread that is more apt here than there:

<---->
The SAT does not measure intelligence or anything of note really.

SAT scores are useless when you're talking about using them to gauge who is "smarter" or has more scholastic potential between two intelligent people. Ultimately, that is what it comes down to when deciding who should get admittance to a top school.

The questions on the SAT (or ACT, whatever) are not of sufficient difficulty to challenge people who are going into the top universities. For instance, all the math problems are simply plug-and-chug, they require no higher-reasoning or abstract thinking. Anyone of average intelligence who paid attention in high school math should be able to ace the math section. They bear no resemblance to the actual skills needed in a university math or science curriculum.

The SAT is reasonably good at separting students into POOR, FAIR, and GOOD categories ranked on how well they understand the material presented in highschool, but that is all. IQ tests and all standardized tests aimed at measuring cognitive or scholastic ability have this same problem.

I think standardized tests are probably fine for measuring that everyone is up to a certain standard, but not for breaking down performance into anything finer-grained than the POOR/FAIR/GOOD distributions.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby embolalia » Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:34 pm UTC

I'm lucky. Since I go to a private school in New York, we aren't required to take Regents exams. All public schools, and certain private schools in New York require them to be taken in order to earn a diploma. But just for the hell of it, we are required to take ERBs from I think 5th to 8th grade, which I believe are mostly used to tell the school how well each class is learning in certain areas. Plus mandatory PSATs and PLANs for 10th and I think 9th grade students. Plus the SAT, if you want to get into nearly every college in the states, and the ACT for quite a few. AP tests if you take AP classes, and SATII tests are reccomended.

So I really dislike standardized tests. I think there are far too many of them. There's no real reason that there should be more than one or two, and only for the purpose of entering college. I would estimate that if I took all of the reccommended tests, the reccommended number of times, I would have spent multiple weeks filling in little bubbles.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby ++$_ » Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:07 am UTC

0xBADFEED wrote:The SAT is reasonably good at separting students into POOR, FAIR, and GOOD categories ranked on how well they understand the material presented in highschool, but that is all. IQ tests and all standardized tests aimed at measuring cognitive or scholastic ability have this same problem.
This.

I'm going to pull some numbers out of my ass. Each section of the SAT has a point spread of 600 points. The SAT is administered on a randomly chosen day, which probably introduces an error of about 50 points (because some days are good days and others are bad days). Also, the questions are random; they may or may not suit your personal strengths. That introduces maybe another 25 points of error. Also, some people tend to well in the standardized-test format, and others do poorly. This means that the SAT score may misrepresent a given person's ability by some amount, which I would introduces an "error" of about 100 points. That totals 175 points. So I would guess that the POOR/FAIR/GOOD grouping is just about all you can really get out of the test. Now, you can't legitimately add these errors, so perhaps there are really more like 5 groups (BAD/POOR/FAIR/GOOD/GREAT).

I do think that the test is somewhat better towards the middle of the curve (between, say, 400 and 600); the questions are aimed primarily at people who will score in this range. For many people who score higher than about 700, the test is basically too easy to mean anything.

I'm fine with colleges using SAT scores as long as they do it on a 3- or 5-point scale like the ones above, although I don't think it really measures anything.

There's also the issue of SAT tutoring. Personally, I think it's a problem for the integrity of the test, unless everyone receives such tutoring. And I don't think everyone should, because there are many more interesting things that we should be doing in high school.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby skyedemon » Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:09 am UTC

i am so glad i dont have to take those here in Canada :shock:

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Snowdream » Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:04 am UTC

...there are many more interesting things that we should be doing in high school.


OK, I may be taking you out of context, but I think you brought up a good point.

...We could be spending so much more time on real, true, authentic forms of assessment for children, rather than drill in Multiple Choice questions. Honestly, I would rather see students go interview Veterans on a weekly basis, and grade them on what they have personally gained from that encounter, rather than as a 'semester project.' I really just don't feel students have justice served when they are challenged at such a low level.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby thatguy » Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:28 pm UTC

I think along with a GPA, a standardized test can give you an idea of someone's education habits.

Example: I scored in the 97th pecrentile on the PSAT (didn't get an exact score) and 99th percentile on the ACT (33), but have a GPA of ~3.65.
Translation: I'm pretty smart, but tend to get bored.
Using that, colleges can make the decision as to how well I'll fit into their environment.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby megabnx » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:20 pm UTC

I hate High School standardized tests as much as the next person, but I believe that some form is assessment is desperately needed for the majority of students. As most of us know however, the average xkcd member is far from the average. The tests basically indicate if you're completely incompetent, of average competence (average outside these forums), or above the curve. As has been said, making any comparisons within these groups is worthless.

My real gripe however is with the standardized tests that you are given before the high school level. At least in high school, such tests can be used by colleges to help determine if you match their criteria. No such thing can be said of these tests in the elementary school level. I remember from 4th through 6th grade all of my classes were obsessed with prepping us with these various exams. They weren't just supplemental aides to the classes, they WERE the class. Teachers also get judged by how well their students perform, so many devoted even more time than they should in hopes of artificially raising scores to get themselves a good review and possibly a raise. My 4th grade teacher was so obsessed with making sure we performed as well as we could for our English Assessment Exam that she graded our tests instantly and refused to collect them if we had too many questions wrong. The school board found out, she got fired and our scores were invalidated. So the end result of the test is that my class was never assessed, my teacher was fired, and my entire 4th grade was wasted. Really beneficial.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Lemminkainen » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:27 pm UTC

I think that the SAT is flawed as an assessment tool, but its removal would cause substantial problems in university education. The SAT and other standardized tests allow colleges and universities to do cross-school comparisons. Grading differs from school to school. A cross-school measure like the SAT (or the subject or AP tests) allows larger organizations to determine the significance of the grades a student earns within their scholastic setting. Without the tests, cross-school judgment would fall back on school reputation, damaging the chances of students who don't go to either top state schools (like Thomas Jefferson, Stuyvesant, or Hunter College High School) or famous privates (like Andover or Phillips Exeter) of getting into top universities, making admissions less objective and returning student selection to a system based on social class rather than merit.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby ++$_ » Sat Nov 08, 2008 1:01 am UTC

Lemminkainen wrote:I think that the SAT is flawed as an assessment tool, but its removal would cause substantial problems in university education. The SAT and other standardized tests allow colleges and universities to do cross-school comparisons. Grading differs from school to school. A cross-school measure like the SAT (or the subject or AP tests) allows larger organizations to determine the significance of the grades a student earns within their scholastic setting. Without the tests, cross-school judgment would fall back on school reputation, damaging the chances of students who don't go to either top state schools (like Thomas Jefferson, Stuyvesant, or Hunter College High School) or famous privates (like Andover or Phillips Exeter) of getting into top universities, making admissions less objective and returning student selection to a system based on social class rather than merit.
I hear this a lot, and I think it's pretty much a non-issue.

First of all, universities already take a school's academic reputation into account. That is, a "B" from a high school that they believe has higher standards may be equivalent to an "A" from a school with lower standards. However, the judgment of standards is absolutely not done with respect to the SAT I test. That judgment is formed based on the courses offered, the admissions counselor's personal assessment of the school (often based on visits), and on the track record of previously admitted students from that school.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, if a student from Flournoy High (in Flournoy, California, a town of about 500 people) applies to a university, the odds are high that they've never visited Flournoy and have no track record to compare. However, they can still make an assessment based on the SAT II scores (which are generally considered much more valuable) and on AP test scores if those are available. There's no real need to use the SAT I in that case; the only time you will find out anything is if the school has such low standards that a student can get an A without knowing anything, in which case a low SAT score will inform you of that. But I still think an SAT II score would do so as well.

Second, if the only purpose of SATs is to compare students across various schools, then the results can be aggregated by school and released only in aggregate form. Why does the college need an individual student's score, if the purpose of SATs is to judge the school, not the individual?

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby mgcclx » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:01 am UTC

I demand AMC + AIME level problems for SAT math level 1 test
math level 2 test with USAMO and IMO level problems.
Also a new level3 that is just a copy of GRE math subject test with a few Putnam problems..
There. that should make the standardized test more challenging. and now everyone have to raise their math skill though the ROOF.. then I can find people I can talk to in my school about math...
MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

that's my 1 cents

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Snowdream » Sun Nov 09, 2008 5:33 am UTC

I scored in the 99th percentile of my ASVAB's and all I got were a bunch of recruiters trying to kiss my @#$%! and get me into the military >.>

I guess Don't ask Don't tell doesn't apply to recruiters when they think you're gifted with computers. :roll:
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Christopher » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:46 am UTC

The standardized tests we use in the United States are terrible at assessing knowledge or ability, but not all standardized tests are this way.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Lemminkainen » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:03 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:
Lemminkainen wrote:I think that the SAT is flawed as an assessment tool, but its removal would cause substantial problems in university education. The SAT and other standardized tests allow colleges and universities to do cross-school comparisons. Grading differs from school to school. A cross-school measure like the SAT (or the subject or AP tests) allows larger organizations to determine the significance of the grades a student earns within their scholastic setting. Without the tests, cross-school judgment would fall back on school reputation, damaging the chances of students who don't go to either top state schools (like Thomas Jefferson, Stuyvesant, or Hunter College High School) or famous privates (like Andover or Phillips Exeter) of getting into top universities, making admissions less objective and returning student selection to a system based on social class rather than merit.
I hear this a lot, and I think it's pretty much a non-issue.

First of all, universities already take a school's academic reputation into account. That is, a "B" from a high school that they believe has higher standards may be equivalent to an "A" from a school with lower standards. However, the judgment of standards is absolutely not done with respect to the SAT I test. That judgment is formed based on the courses offered, the admissions counselor's personal assessment of the school (often based on visits), and on the track record of previously admitted students from that school.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, if a student from Flournoy High (in Flournoy, California, a town of about 500 people) applies to a university, the odds are high that they've never visited Flournoy and have no track record to compare. However, they can still make an assessment based on the SAT II scores (which are generally considered much more valuable) and on AP test scores if those are available. There's no real need to use the SAT I in that case; the only time you will find out anything is if the school has such low standards that a student can get an A without knowing anything, in which case a low SAT score will inform you of that. But I still think an SAT II score would do so as well.

Second, if the only purpose of SATs is to compare students across various schools, then the results can be aggregated by school and released only in aggregate form. Why does the college need an individual student's score, if the purpose of SATs is to judge the school, not the individual?

You have a strong point-- however, say, standardized testing certainly does help students who are in piss-poor schools to demonstrate that they do have ability, preventing elite-school-only acceptance policies.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Cynical Idealist » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:40 pm UTC

thatguy wrote:I think along with a GPA, a standardized test can give you an idea of someone's education habits.

Example: I scored in the 97th pecrentile on the PSAT (didn't get an exact score) and 99th percentile on the ACT (33), but have a GPA of ~3.65.
Translation: I'm pretty smart, but tend to get bored.
Using that, colleges can make the decision as to how well I'll fit into their environment.

I think you might be on to something. Combining standardized test scores with Someone who got, say, a 35 on the ACT with a GPA of around 3.0 probably has issues with motivation or organization, but is pretty smart--or damn good at multiple-choice tests. Someone who has a 4.0 but only manages to get in the mid-20s on the ACT probably has issues with standardized tests (some learning disorders apparently wreak havoc with standardized tests), or works very thoroughly but somewhat slowly (and ran into the time limit). Someone who got a 36 and over a 4.0 (if AP classes are weighted) is really good at cheating probably smart and self-motivated. However, looking at standardized test scores by themselves doesn't offer much information.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby thatguy » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:20 am UTC

Cynical Idealist wrote:
thatguy wrote:I think along with a GPA, a standardized test can give you an idea of someone's education habits.

Example: I scored in the 97th pecrentile on the PSAT (didn't get an exact score) and 99th percentile on the ACT (33), but have a GPA of ~3.65.
Translation: I'm pretty smart, but tend to get bored.
Using that, colleges can make the decision as to how well I'll fit into their environment.

I think you might be on to something. Combining standardized test scores with Someone who got, say, a 35 on the ACT with a GPA of around 3.0 probably has issues with motivation or organization, but is pretty smart--or damn good at multiple-choice tests. Someone who has a 4.0 but only manages to get in the mid-20s on the ACT probably has issues with standardized tests (some learning disorders apparently wreak havoc with standardized tests), or works very thoroughly but somewhat slowly (and ran into the time limit). Someone who got a 36 and over a 4.0 (if AP classes are weighted) is really good at cheating probably smart and self-motivated. However, looking at standardized test scores by themselves doesn't offer much information.


Thank you sir.
I think the PSAT/SAT is messed up too, if only because of the way they score the damn thing. If you're not 100% sure of an answer, you almost have to stop and think if its worth it to answer the question, rather than just putting pencil to paper.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Cynical Idealist » Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:05 am UTC

thatguy wrote:
Cynical Idealist wrote:
thatguy wrote:I think along with a GPA, a standardized test can give you an idea of someone's education habits.

Example: I scored in the 97th pecrentile on the PSAT (didn't get an exact score) and 99th percentile on the ACT (33), but have a GPA of ~3.65.
Translation: I'm pretty smart, but tend to get bored.
Using that, colleges can make the decision as to how well I'll fit into their environment.

I think you might be on to something. Combining standardized test scores with Someone who got, say, a 35 on the ACT with a GPA of around 3.0 probably has issues with motivation or organization, but is pretty smart--or damn good at multiple-choice tests. Someone who has a 4.0 but only manages to get in the mid-20s on the ACT probably has issues with standardized tests (some learning disorders apparently wreak havoc with standardized tests), or works very thoroughly but somewhat slowly (and ran into the time limit). Someone who got a 36 and over a 4.0 (if AP classes are weighted) is really good at cheating probably smart and self-motivated. However, looking at standardized test scores by themselves doesn't offer much information.


Thank you sir.
I think the PSAT/SAT is messed up too, if only because of the way they score the damn thing. If you're not 100% sure of an answer, you almost have to stop and think if its worth it to answer the question, rather than just putting pencil to paper.

Honestly, if people know a few things, the point subtraction makes sense. It deters random guessing. The trick is to realize this: if you can definitively eliminate one answer, picking another answer is statistically a good idea (1/3 * 1 + 2/3 * -.25 is positive), and if you can eliminate a second answer, you're in good territory. The main issue is that some people are never told this, and don't figure it out for themselves. It almost makes a prep class mandatory, which is sad.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Griffin » Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:23 am UTC

I figured that out for myself.

Anyways,

they were in the process of raising the standards for high school students, which appeared to mean that everyone had to pass a certain number of Regents, and they made the exams easier so that they could still graduate enough people.


... wha? Isn't that the opposite of raising standards? If that's someones idea of raising standards, they seriously need to be fired.

Anyways, I think standardized tests have a place, but I don't think that any standardized test should be used to measure more than one thing, ever. They have limitations, and when you try to test multiple aspects with a single question, you're exacerbating the already existing issues.

No. Tests serve as testing for purposes of passing and graduation, for purposes of submitting to colleges, or for purposes of gauging the school itself. Never should these overlap.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Snowdream » Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:52 am UTC

Griffin wrote:I figured that out for myself.

Anyways,

they were in the process of raising the standards for high school students, which appeared to mean that everyone had to pass a certain number of Regents, and they made the exams easier so that they could still graduate enough people.


... wha? Isn't that the opposite of raising standards? If that's someones idea of raising standards, they seriously need to be fired.


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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Griffin » Thu Nov 13, 2008 12:14 pm UTC

Oooooh, No Child Left Behind? Got it...
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby DougP » Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:03 pm UTC

Standardized tests are a way to make money for the testing organizations while giving the government a way to feel better by saying they are imposing standards.

Stuff like the SAT and GRE are are absolutely offensive as far as I am concerned. For instance, this year I am applying for PhD programs, and am finishing up my Master's degree. This means I will be applying to these programs with a record in graduate work (which a high GPA), and a finished Master's thesis. To think that I could get weeded out because I test badly would is absolutely ridiculous. (Now, granted, I did well above average on the exam, but thats not the point, if I had botched it for some reason, would that somehow be reason to invalidate all the other work I produced over 2 years of graduate work... because I performed poorly on one 4 hour test?)

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby rubber314chicken » Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:08 am UTC

I like them only if I get a perfect on the math section. I got one on the OGT and PSAT, but on the SAT I only got a 720. Makes me really really mad.
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Snowdream
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Snowdream » Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:17 am UTC

DougP wrote:Standardized tests are a way to make money for the testing organizations while giving the government a way to feel better by saying they are imposing standards.

Stuff like the SAT and GRE are are absolutely offensive as far as I am concerned. For instance, this year I am applying for PhD programs, and am finishing up my Master's degree. This means I will be applying to these programs with a record in graduate work (which a high GPA), and a finished Master's thesis. To think that I could get weeded out because I test badly would is absolutely ridiculous. (Now, granted, I did well above average on the exam, but thats not the point, if I had botched it for some reason, would that somehow be reason to invalidate all the other work I produced over 2 years of graduate work... because I performed poorly on one 4 hour test?)


I think a great way to put standardized tests is like this:

Take Bob and Jim. Bob is really good at sports, Jim is amazingly good at Science.

To test their skills and how smart they are, they will be forced to play the Violin in front of a panel of judges.
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Why Two Kay
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Why Two Kay » Sat Nov 15, 2008 6:16 am UTC

lorenith wrote:Well standardized tests in Texas (I think it's called the TAKS now or something, my class was the lucky one that had to test it, even though we had all already tested out via the TAAS, if we didn't "test" the TAKS test out we would be automatically failed even though the score we got on it didn't matter since the scoring was being fine tuned!)

...

IF YOU FAIL THIS ONE TEST YOU CANNOT GRADUATE

...

So yeah, standardized testing at least the kind Texas does is pointless if you ask me.


I'm a senior in Plano, TX right now. I took and got a perfect score on all the TAKS tests last year, in my Junior year. And honestly... I think these tests are necessary. If you can't pass these tests, then maybe you shouldn't graduate, since you have not surpassed an 8th grade education.

The hardest question on the math test involved solving a system of 2 equations for X. Equations like: 5x+3y=7 and 15x-9y=33 (I have no idea how that works out, but the idea is that it is simple AND you get a TI-84 calculator on the test!). The science test is almost 50% "can you read this graph" and the rest are "Which device pictured is useful for measuring 50mL of liquid?" with pictures of test tubes, flasks, and HUGE tanks. It's basically... obvious.

Sure, I'm smart and have a > 4.0 GPA, but these tests are... ridiculous. It's a waste of time, yes, but also people shouldn't be able to graduate if they can't pass them. In that way, it makes sense.

Snowdream wrote:I think a great way to put standardized tests is like this:

Take Bob and Jim. Bob is really good at sports, Jim is amazingly good at Science.

To test their skills and how smart they are, they will be forced to play the Violin in front of a panel of judges.

That's a really interesting way to think about it.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby TheQntty » Sun Nov 30, 2008 4:27 pm UTC

mgcclx wrote:I demand AMC + AIME level problems for SAT math level 1 test
math level 2 test with USAMO and IMO level problems.
Also a new level3 that is just a copy of GRE math subject test with a few Putnam problems..
There. that should make the standardized test more challenging. and now everyone have to raise their math skill though the ROOF.. then I can find people I can talk to in my school about math...
MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

that's my 1 cents

Including AMC-like questions (and a few AIME) would actually be a really good idea. Beyond that, its too hard for most people.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Cynical Idealist » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:29 am UTC

Since I've got time now, I figured that I'd post the following rather vicious condemnation of standardized testing, in the form of an excerpt from Cryptonomicon.
Cryptonomicon wrote:[...]He walked straight out of college into the waiting arms of the Navy.

They gave him an intelligence test. The first question on the math part had to do with boats on a river: Port Smith is 100 miles upstream of Port Jones. The river flows at 5 miles per hour. The boat goes through water at 10 miles per hour. How long does it take to go from Port Smith to Port Jones? How long to come back?

Lawrence immediately saw that it was a trick question. You would have to be some kind of idiot to make the facile assumption that the current would add or subtract 5 miles per hour to or from the speed of the boat. Clearly, 5 miles per hour was nothing more than the average speed. The current would be faster in the middle of the river and slower at the banks. More complicated variations could be expected at bends in the river. Basically it was a question of hydrodynamics, which could be tackled using certain well-known systems of differential equations. Lawrence dove into the problem, rapidly (or so he thought) covering both sides of ten sheets of paper with calculations. Along the way, he realized that one of his assumptions, in combination with the simplified Navier-Stokes equations, had led him into an exploration of a particularly interesting family of partial differential equations. Before he knew it, he had proved a new theorem. If that didn't prove his intelligence, what would?

Then then the time bell rang and the papers were collected. Lawrence managed to hang onto his scratch paper. He took it back to his dorm, typed it up, and mailed it to one of the more approachable math professors at Princeton, who promptly arranged for it to be published in a Parisian mathematics journal.

Lawrence received two free, freshly printed copies of the journal a few months later, in San Diego, California, during mail call on board a large ship called the U.S.S. Nevada. The ship had a band, and the Navy had given Lawrence the job of playing the glockenspiel in it, because their testing procedures had proven that he was not intelligent enough to do anything else.


I've already made my views on the values of the results clear, but I wanted to post this because I also wanted to add a bit about what I feel is another issue with standardized tests*. So many of the problems are so over-simplified that the smarter people taking them overthink them, leading to wrong answers, or, at best, wasted time. Of course, poor Lawrence here wasted rather more time than most people would, but he's a bit...disconnected from reality.

*well, that, and its just that funny
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Ixtellor » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:21 pm UTC

1) There was a lawsuit a long time ago and as a result the SAT is not allowed to be called the 'Scholastic Aptitude Test', it is called the SAT and it means nothing.
Why? Because it conclusively does not measure aptitude.

2) Overall these types of test are just a measure of current knowledge. Nothing more. Nothing about intelligence or ability to succeed. Although there will be some correlations in the short run, in the long run they fail.

3) In terms of State graduate exams, I have tons to say, as I am currently a HS teacher and very very familiar with them. But I don't have 3 hours.
I will say this:
Schools need to be held accountable, and this is the only way anyone has thought of that can defeat the rampant lying and cheating that schools do to get good 'scores/reviews'.

The tests take up far too much time and resources, and result in inferior educations.
(Being that many teachers end up teaching the low level test instead of higher order thinking skills, that won't be on the test, thus depriving you of a better education)


Ixtellor

P.S. Here is a quick link, but there are better ones that escape me currently
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline ... /what.html
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Snowdream
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Snowdream » Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:03 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Schools need to be held accountable, and this is the only way anyone has thought of that can defeat the rampant lying and cheating that schools do to get good 'scores/reviews'.


It is disturbing when you see the state lower their standards in order to meet the pass rate, or the graduation rate. I do agree that we need accountability... but tests are just far too useless, and archaic.

The SAT is my main enemy though >.>
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby ecshafer » Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:05 pm UTC

I personally am against standardized tests, since teachers teach to the test. But k-12 its necessary to have kind of benchmark. I think k-12 should have the standardized tests, but not have them count for school funding or anything (I also think that schools should be heavily funded but besides the point) The ap, ib system is great for the high school/early college level, having the privately run standardized for college credit.

The SAT and ACT etc were retarded in my opinion. I do not see how those things measure ability. For a college test, I think that each college making am entrance exam would work best, and having getting in to that college based on the exam. But that is just my own tastes.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby ecshafer » Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:13 pm UTC

Oh too elaborate on my post a bit, Entrance exams for the major, or just a general exam.engineers mainly math/science, social science do writing etc, maybe just a few essays that they send in. Because standardized tests have so many faults.

I read an essay once by Isaac Asimov, and it was on intelligence. It went something along the lines of he took tests for the military and stuff and he was always considered smart, but he couldnt fix a car, but his mechanic could. But by academia standards the mechanic is stupid since he wouldnt do well on the tests, while he [asimov] did. But in reality intelligence is all relative to peoples stengths etc. It was a good essay I wish I could find it so i could link it.

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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Snowdream » Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:15 pm UTC

ecshafer wrote: I read an essay once by Isaac Asimov, and it was on intelligence. It went something along the lines of he took tests for the military and stuff and he was always considered smart, but he couldnt fix a car, but his mechanic could. But by academia standards the mechanic is stupid since he wouldnt do well on the tests, while he [asimov] did. But in reality intelligence is all relative to peoples stengths etc. It was a good essay I wish I could find it so i could link it.


There are also certain 'smarts' that can be seen, felt, admired, but that can not be measured...

"If a few pieces of paper can determine if a person is 'smart' or 'dumb', then that doesn't say much about humans..."
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Sungura » Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:00 pm UTC

The thing I don't like about standardized tests is that it usually seems more about how to take the exam than about actual knowledge. I knew people in high school who I would consider "average" but they learned how the exam worked, and scored quite well. I also knew people who I would consider practically genius and they scored good but not great. I personally came out with good scores (31 on the ACT, 98%tile on the PSAT or whatever that one you take the junior year was) which didn't surprise me. But my gpa in high school was about a 3.8 (4.0 scale) so it pretty much fit, I think. Whoever it was who said it is helpful when looked at with the gpa, I agree with.

For the GRE I had some problems. I think I got like a 560 on verbal which is not great, but heck, I'm a scientist not an English major! One of the few questions on that part I was SURE of was, "genotype:phenotype::(I forget the word here):_" heehee genotype & phenotype I know those words! Qualitative was much better - I got somewhere around 680 on that. The analytical writing section I also fared well in, getting a 5 (which on the score sheet I got back it said those who declared they were English majors averaged only a 4.2 on the section, the science majors averaged about a 3.4!). So if you look at things individually, one would definitely say I need to learn more about English and expand my vocabulary. However, if it is looked at as a whole, one would see that even though my background is science and math, I can still construct excellent essays even though I don't know fancy words. Still, overall my scores are a bit low for a science/math person. However, any grad school could also look at the date of the exam and see that it took place the semester I was taking 22 credits, and 15 of those were 400-level (senior level) science classes, another 3 credits were a graduate level science class, and the last few a graduate math course. So I was kinda busy! And I happened to pull off a 3.7 gpa that semester as well.

So, I think while standardized tests are useful to some extent, they cannot be a sole guidance point. There are many other factors to take into consideration. Also, for things like grad school in science, lab experience matters just as much if not more than how well one can take an exam.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby Intercept » Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:57 pm UTC

Tests like the ACT, SAT, college tests based more on your general abilities are fine and fairly reflective. I don't think I've ever been surprised by someone's scores on one of these tests (Excepting obvious cases of people with test anxiety.) They don't really harm or affect public schooling in anyway.

Standardized tests for public schools are just a terrible institution that wastes weeks between testing and preparing for testing and don't always accurately represent how good a school is.
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Re: Standardized tests... thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Postby stigmatizethis » Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:33 am UTC

Anyone who wants to put the effort into maximizing their efficiency on standardized tests can do so. People make it out to be like such an option is only available to the wealthy or something. Go online, find a practice test, do it a few times, maybe look for a past version of the test, etc. It really isn't that hard to do.
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