Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Testsandgrades are arrogant

Testsandgrades are arrogant.

No one assessment, no matter how elaborate, valid or reliable should be used to make high stakes decisions or judgements of learners.

Anyone who has spent more than a half-hearted visit to a school knows that children are far too complex for anyone indicator to accurately summarize.

It's time we taught testsandgrades some humility.


  1. Such a short post and yet a conflicting message...

    Totally with you on the failure of a single measure to tell us anything of note. I'm a huge proponent of multiple measures and advocate, obnoxiously at times, for not making decisions based on one measure.

    Yet I struggle with how your war on testsandgrades is different from the war on poverty. Both appear to be attacking an inanimate object or concept. How do we show testsandgrades humility when they are solely the creation of educators within the system?

    Given the lack of agency for testsandgrades, can I extrapolate that you are you saying that educators who use testsandgrades lack humility?

    As always - thanks for the provocation!

  2. A good teacher should be able to assess where a kid is holding without tests or grades. The problem with grades like diagnoses and other labels used to describe behavior is that they don't tell us much

  3. I am in constant agreement with you when it comes to tests and grades. But I think there needs to be something said for over assessing.

    What I mean is this: some have taken the concept of data driven decision making and bastardized it to the point where children are spending the majority of their school year (dis)engaged in standardized testing. In just grade three, the grade in CT when state testing begins, my students had to endure 100 days of standardized testing. That's approximately 60% of their school year.

    Those tests told me nothing that I didn't know about them from my daily engagements with my students. For me this is a waste of time. Not to mention the fact that it turned many of them off to school. There is a better way and wasting precious learning time with hours of testing is not it.

  4. I should add that of the 100 standardized testing days, 6 are for the state. The other 94 are district imposed. For these reasons: to get the children accustomed to testing & so that we can know how they answer questions & teach them how to 'beat the test'. Sad.

  5. From Alfie Kohn's

    If these people were serious about assessing children's thinking, they would be supporting teachers in gathering information over time about the depth of understanding that's reflected in their projects and activities. Do the folks at DOE even realize that you don't need to test in order to assess?


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