Taking a Philosophical View of Standardized Tests

By Anthony Rebora — September 30, 2011 1 min read
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On the New York Times’ Opinionator blog, a Notre Dame philosophy professor warns against the inclination to take “immediate and drastic” corrective action based on subpar student standardized test scores. Tests, he suggests, are not always a good gauge of students’ applicable knowledge in a particular subject area. And even when they are, there’s usually no easy or uniform solution for how to boost the requisite knowledge and skills for all students.

In this connection, it’s noteworthy that, according to the article we highlighted yesterday, Finland’s education leaders seem to take very little interest in the Programme for International Student Assessment—the very exam that has made its education system the envy of the world. “We prepare children to learn how to learn, not how to take a test,” says the country’s Ministry of Education and Culture. “We are not much interested in the PISA. It’s not what we are about.”

Then again, you have to wonder if they would have the same attitude if their students weren’t doing so well on the exam.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.