Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How I would do standardized testing

It has come to my attention, while homeschooling Brandon, that he does not know some basic math skills. Like multiplying and dividing large numbers. This is not a dumb kid. And his 3rd and 4th grade teacher was very good. And the curriculum wasn't horrible. And there are strict standardized testing implemented in our state (MCAS) that is supposed to monitor everyone's progress. So... So... what the hell went wrong?!

Well, I have an opinion on the standardized testing that could solve this problem. Right now it's a HUGE LONG test, that takes days on end, even weeks, to take. It covers a huge range of topics and concepts. There are two major flaws with this method of testing. First, the broad spectrum of subjects is so huge, the teacher's end up spending the entire year "teaching to the test" and never delving into what interests them or where their expertise lie. What a waste of their talents!

And second of all, in the case of student's like my son, missing basic skills are never identified!! So, while we might find out that he is "not proficient" in math- we never exactly find out what he can't do (though it does show what kind of math problem he gets wrong-like geometry). In my proposed solution the MCAS is pared down to about a half an hour per grade level. The teacher's know exactly what is on the test. A sixth grade test will look like this:

1 question multiplying three digit numbers
1 question dividing four digit numbers
1 question asking the child to find a percentage of a three digit number.
1 spelling word from this list of thirty...
1 sentence in which the child must write the proper form of "there, their, they're"
1 sentence in which the child must use quotation marks in their proper form
1 paragraph essay on a surprise topic with only two grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes allowed.

And it is pass/fail. You have to pass every question to pass the test. They can retake it numerous times, but the school gets penalized for every attempt. This way, no student is ever lacking in a basic skill. If they don't know the difference between "there" and "their" they will get question five wrong and they can get tutored on that subject until they understand the difference.

No, it will not produce well rounded, intelligent, amazing, inspired students. That is the job of the teacher! But it will make sure that "no child gets left behind", which IS the point of the test!!



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