Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Standardized Test Scores: At best unhelpful and at worst harmful

A large body of research shows that the standardized test scores are effective predictors... of the size of homes that surround a school! Studies have shown that 50%-90% of the factors that influence standardized test score results are external from the learning that occurs in the classroom - effectively making standardized test scores a great measurement for the affluence of a school's population.

Because focusing on standardized tests end up measuring what matters least, they actually end up encouraging the worst kinds of teaching and learning environments. And so there are two feasible reactions to higher standardized test scores. One is "so what!". This implies an understanding that the successes and failures illustrated by rising and lowering test scores says nothing about the quality of education a school provides its students. The second reaction to high scores is "uh-oh!" This reaction implies a kind of deep concern for what kinds of real learning the school had to sacrifice in order to achieve these higher scores.

For more on Joe Bower's views on this topic, take a look at these blog posts:

Standardized Testing is Dumbing Down Our Schools
Multiple Choice Tests Suck
Accountability and George W. Bush
The People's Republic of Standardization
High Stakes Testing's Kryptonite
Bastardized Accountability
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