Teaching Profession

When Standardized Tests Get it Wrong

By Caroline Cournoyer — December 13, 2010 1 min read

High school teacher Matthew Amaral has no problem giving his students standardized tests or getting evaluated based on their results. However, he does have a problem using tests with inaccuracies, he explains in an EducationNews blog.

Amaral was alarmed to find out that a friend of his—with a business background and no experience in education—was hired by the education company monitoring his school and had a hand in writing some of the assessments he gave to his students. After reviewing an assessment with other teachers, Amaral discovered that the 28-question test had eight questions that were either worded wrong, had more than one answer, or identified the wrong answer as correct, according to the blog.

“How can you evaluate a teacher on a 28-question test when eight of them are wrong?” Amaral asks. “Instead of the class average being a 70 percent, it is now a 60 percent. If you compare that with how your students did last year in 8th grade, all that’s going to show is that in 9th grade (when they had YOU as a teacher), their scores dropped from Proficient to Basic. And five years from now, when we have REAL evaluations, those kinds of mistakes in the assessment itself will be forgotten, they’ll just see how large chunks of kids lost headway under your watch.”

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