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the war on standarized tests

the.udying.girlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. posted this thread...
Feb. 16 at 5:54 pm

hit me with some pro/anti-standardized test arguments, stories, statements, and opinions

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Feb. 16 at 7:50 pm

They always curve the tests to fit their own numbers of who should pass and fail. Last year, the curve for government was set at 48%. This year, it was different. It can't be standardized if they constantly change the standard. Also, it's unfair for me, who got an A on that test naturally, to get the same grade as someone who got less than half of the questions right.

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JubilexThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 17 at 3:36 am

"It can't be standardized if they constantly change the standard"
 
Yes it can. I don't know how these tests work, so I can't comment on them specifically, but I can give an example of something else.
 
The pass marks for exams in my degree vary from year to year. Not just as I progress either, but also for the years who succeeded/preceded. For example, a first year who took the exams last year might have had a different pass mark for a first year who takes them this year.
 
This is because the questions have to be re-written from year to year and sometimes certain questions are more or less difficult than the previous year, so the pass marks for those questions change. This might mean that a difficult exam has an overall pass mark of 45% and an easier one 60%. (These figures are completely made up, I doubt there'd be quite that much variation in practice.)
 
This doesn't even take into account scaling, which is a whole new layer of complexity.

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Feb. 17 at 5:49 am

There really isn't a standard, or at least not where I am. On one year's Spanish midterm, the curve was set at 60. Anyone who got a 60 or higher got a 100%. Everyone below it had their grades adjusted to fit that. This year, the curve was at 47. The curves for these tests are constantly changing because my county is looking for a certain number of people to pass, and wants to make the tests fit that number instead of seeing how many people actually pass on their own. So their "standard" is constantly changing because they want to play this numbers game.

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JubilexThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 17 at 6:14 am

Is it based on a percentage of students passing? It's a seemingly weird system, but it might have some semblance of reasoning.
 
Some systems grade based on bell curves, or expected averages. Maybe that's what they're going for?

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FunneThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 17 at 9:10 am

My problem is that Schools will dedicate entire classes to teaching the tests.

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Feb. 17 at 2:57 pm

Nope. They just decide how many people should pass this year and make the numbers fit it.

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the.udying.girlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 17 at 11:34 pm

      Don't even get me started on Florida's education system and standardized tests. we are taught how to pass the test only, and the tests are not at all consistent but the grading scale is. Ok, that sounds weird, so here's an example.  On the reading FSA (Florida Standards Assessment), they want us to make "learning gains" aka get a better score on a test that is harder. These variables are not singular and so they are not reliable to find these supposed "learning gains". Now, this is not a problem the first few years, because taking a 5th-grade test in the  5th grade with the knowledge of a 5th grader, it's easy to make "gains" because it, itself, is easy. But once they want you to make gains from calculus to trigonometry, you know there is something wrong. 
     Ugh god, and the number of tests we have, it's a massacre! a normal 8th-grade student will have: The Reading FSA
                                                   The Writing FSA
                                                    The NAPA
                                                     The Math FSA
                                                    The Science FSA
                                                     The US History EOC
                                                     The Algebra  EOC
                                                      The Physical Science EOC
This is all over the course of a month, and I have literally had friends who study until  3 am starting two weeks before so that they can make the fabled "learning gains".
And another thing, the teachers seem to be possessed with this "pass the test" mentality that makes them so wound up that they forget to actually teach and prepare us for the next class, instead implanting test taking skills and useless topics into our brain so they get a pay raise from the almost bare minimum (which is another problem to discuss). They hate doing it, we hate learning it, no one is happy. 
Though I can say that we really have nothing else. How else are you supposed to see whether the school your child goes to is sufficient, or if your child is proficient? truly, a flawed system, but a system nonetheless.

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Feb. 18 at 8:12 am

Another Floridian? Yeah, just wait for high school... FSA is once every 9 weeks (and the last one, they only provided evidence for one side of an argumentative essay); there are tests for chemistry, math, Spanish, and English, and AP tests for history and geography. I feel like my teachers do a pretty good job of not teaching only to the test, but my school is actually three schools in one- the teachers from my main school do not teach to the test, but the ones from the main school do.

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the.udying.girlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 18 at 9:36 pm

yeesh man, I'm in high school too, but they don't do that (except for writing, there i feel you). what type of crazed part of Florida do you live in?

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Feb. 19 at 1:00 am

I am in Polk County, which doesn't have a stellar reputation for all of this. What part are you in?

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Lucy-AgnesThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 19 at 5:27 pm

I just feel like the questions they ask on standardized tests don't go very deep. :P They seem to be testing how well we can analyze information, not how well we can think. The SAT essay in particular annoyed me; they didn't want to see how well I could set up my own argument, they wanted to see how well I could analyze somebody else's argument. Not that that doesn't have value...I just wanted something with a little more substance.
 
The Classical Learning Test (or CLT), which is a new standardized test beginning to be accepted by certain colleges, is trying to fix that. It was a lot harder than the SAT and ACT (I missed half the math problems), but I still liked it better because it actually focused on things like great literature and deep ideas. 

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ThrillQueen126This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 19 at 8:12 pm

The problem with standardized tests is that they don't test you on your knowledge or intelligence, they test you on how well you can take a test.

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stuntddude replied...
Feb. 20 at 12:38 am

I'd argue that analyzing information is one of the most important skills any person can have, and is a major part (possibly the single most important part) of good academic thinking. And I would also argue it's more important to be able to analyze another person's argument than it is to express your own. It's better to be quiet and shrewd than a loud idiot, and I dislike when academia prioritizes teaching students how to be convincing over teaching them how to avoid being too easily convinced.
 
For their part, in my experience, high-profile tests like the ACT and SAT have good quality control. They have to meet very high standards, or they'll spark endless protest and controversy due to their importance. The stress they cause for students, on the other hand, is... not so great. And the low-profile tests tend to range anywhere from decent to absolute dogsh!t.

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the.udying.girlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 21 at 9:15 pm

Miami-Dade County, 4th largest in the country, the responsibility to uphold a good reputation is pushed onto helpless students and educators. not fun.

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the.udying.girlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 21 at 9:20 pm

Lucy, you've brought to the table something no one else has, an alternative to these standardized tests. though I agree more with stuntdude on the topic of questions, I'm proud to say you've brought a twist of issim (a new word used around southern Australia being the route word of optimism/pessimism)

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the.udying.girlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 21 at 9:20 pm

to the table
 

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the.udying.girlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 21 at 9:22 pm

stuntdude, I agree with what you're saying. though thinking deeply about a problem is crucial to the requirements of a professional adult, analyzing questions is slightly more important when it comes to modern academics

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the.udying.girlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 21 at 9:26 pm

I hear ya, ThrillQueen, but unfortunately for the exceptions like you and I (and I'm sure everyone on this website), test taking is kind of a majority skill and is easier to test on than actual intelligence, since it (it, being test taking skills)isnt subjective while intelligence without IQ is.

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Lucy-AgnesThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Feb. 22 at 4:05 pm

Stuntddude's post got me thinking about my own comment. I think it wasn't so much the "analyze this person's argument" that I didn't like; it was that they wanted me to merely identify what techniques he used in putting forth his argument, not evaluate whether it was a good argument or judge his conclusions as reasonable/true or not.

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