Assessment Opinion

Follow-Up: It’s Time to Take Back Assessment

By Jessica Hahn — November 22, 2011 1 min read
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Jessica Hahn

Reading all of the posts, and particularly Rebecca’s about standardized testing, made me reflect on my own post. I realize that when I thought of an effective measurement tool, I thought of a completely open-ended math test. When I had a critique of a test, it was of a multiple-choice, standardized reading test.

I believe that reading testing is extremely problematic. For example, kindergarten through 2nd grade students in my school have historically read on or above grade level, as measured by the Fountas and Pinnell benchmark assessment. This assessment relies on running records and miscue analysis. And yet, when these same students get to 3rd grade, their reading scores on the state standardized test are much lower.

Are we to assume that these students can’t read? The government sure does. And then schools do. They assume that they are doing something wrong. They assume that their teachers aren’t teaching literacy properly.

Why don’t we question the assessment itself? Is it measuring what we value about reading? Do our kids just not know the genre of test taking? Or are the scores indicative of a learning problem?

It’s time that educators stick up for ourselves. It’s time we say: “We know we have work to do. We know we can better serve our students. BUT, we are teaching them to read and we do have the data that show they are learning.”

In this light, one of the comments on Rebecca’s post really stands out. Karl Wheatley from Cleveland State University suggests that standardized tests only have the power and privilege we give them.

Therefore, I believe we have the ability to TAKE AWAY their power and privilege.

Which lends itself to a greater conversation. Since the 1950’s our government has committed itself to maintaining excellence and equity in our public schools. In its effort to do so it has chosen standardized testing as the measure. I believe it has done so because it sees schooling and teaching as a science, much in the sense that Karl, in his post, compares measuring learning to measuring coffee or lumber. I also think the government has chosen standardized testing because standardized tests are easier to administer, collect, and grade.

Is the government ready to accept the complexity of measuring student learning and the variety of tools that come along with it?

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