Testing Culture Forum (and my experience with a test this week)
I had an interesting run-in with standardized testing this week. I decided to finally try to figure out if I have ADD (or maybe I just get distracted because my blackberry sends me an email every time there is a comment here.) Part of the test that my Dr. prescribed involved taking the WAIS III test, which I learned later is an adult intelligence test. It is administered by a human and is the first standardized test I’ve taken since the 80’s. I have always found standardized tests oddly enjoyable to take. I still recall the yearly Iowa Basic Tests — getting my nice sharp #2 pencil and filling in those bubbles so carefully. I have an odd knack for tests like this which helps, and I’ve also benefited from test prep for the SATs and GMATs. I really enjoyed taking the test last week, and it was very insightful in regards to all the talk we have here on the gifted/classical testing. Some things I concluded:
Having a test administrator is probably biasing. – My test lady read me many of the questions or gave me block to arrange or pictures to put in order. She was oddly blatant in her positive reinforcement when I got something right, which made me oddly want to please her. It also made it enjoyable. If she’d been unpleasant the test would have been a much different experience. Made me wonder about the kids taking the tests for Kindergarten when they have a 1-on-1 administrator.
The test felt culturally biased. – Well, socio-economically biased. Sure, arranging blocks in a pattern is a generic skill that crosses all boundaries. But there were also tasks like answering some basic culture questions (who was madame curie? who painted the Sistine chapel? What is the Koran? read a list of vocab words including insouciant, dilettante, hegemony. word tasks that involve grouping cooking utensils, liquors. What is the book of genesis about?) Clearly the more exposure you’ve had to the world and to words, the higher your “intelligence.”
Practicing would have helped – as with other standardized tests I’ve taken, if I’d been able to do some practice questions for this specific test, I’m certain I could have done better. Not a TON better, but certainly a little better. I remember now why test prep helped me in the past.
Anyhow, just thought I’d share that since it was an interesting.experience And testing is such a big topic right now. As much as I loved testing as a child, in part it was because it was once a year. Now CPS is taking my much-loved testing and making it a constant and somewhat torturous activity for students. Monitoring throughout the year is good conceptually. Difficult to administer when it’s all done on computers and the CPS hardware and software don’t support it. It’s an arduous undertaking. And that’s just logistical. There are likely other ramifications of a heavy testing culture.
You can learn more at Raise Your Hand’s forum this week which sounds very interesting:
Community Forum: The Culture of Testing -Assessing Assessment at CPS
Panelists include CPS teachers from primary grades to high school and Prof. Noah W. Sobe, Associate Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University where he also directs the Center for Comparative Education. A researcher who studies the history of education and the relationship between globalization and schools, Prof. Sobe serves on the Boards of Directors of several scholarly societies and presents at academic conferences around the globe. He is also the parent of two daughters currently attending CPS and and a member of a group of education researchers called CReATE (Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates of Transformative Education) and a co-author of CReATE’s research brief on high stakes standardized testing.
When: Thursday, 11/29
Where: Holstein Park, 2200 N. Oakley, 2nd floor Auditorium
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
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