Testing for exactly the opposite of what we need


via Tom Hoffman at TuttleSVC:

Choice Quotes on the NYS ELA Exam

Many thanks to Lucy Calkins for having someone throw up a site to gather comments about the recent Common Core-aligned ELA exams in New York state. It is a bit of a mess, but kind of charming that in 2013 they chose to hack something together from scratch in PHP instead of just giving Google all the data directly.

Here are some quotes I plucked — sorry they aren’t attributed or individually linked. I spent way too much time reading the giant list of comments in the first place and couldn’t get too fussy.

For example, two of the questions asked students, “Which of the following is the best summary of the article.” For each of these questions, there were four lengthy summaries (a,b,c, or d). Students could easily narrow the four summaries down to two possible choices, but the differences between the two possible choices were so subtle that you’re no longer measuring that student’s ability to summarize! You’re measuring if they can pick up on matters of inclusion and exclusion. It’s more trickery than actually measuring the mastery of a particular skill, especially in this multiple-choice format.

I started my former position in banking based on two abilities; being able to do basic coding in fourth-generation languages (dBase, Access, etc.), and being able to write a solid one-page memo to outline situations to my management. My experience, and the demand for my writing since, tells me that what is being tested with this fad for “close” reading is the exact opposite of what business is looking for. A good analysis/synthesis memo does not involve your reading of minute details, but instead includes only the details that are pertinent to the situation at hand, or some future problem. Sharing with management that the program to pay loan officers for originations is occurring at two points in the program resulting in double payments, is the kind of detail they want to hear. Telling them the program is working as expected, and then detailing each example from the code is only prized in auditors, and is way more information than most Senior VPs and even Assistant VPs want or need. Including a comment on some random piece of code doesn’t make you a prized employee, it just makes you a wanker in their eyes. Really, this whole system is just ready to implode under the weight of its own stupidity.

3 Comments to

“Testing for exactly the opposite of what we need”

  1. May 6th, 2013 at 8:14 pm      Reply Adriane Says:

    Except I’ve learned to never bet against stupidity.

  2. June 23rd, 2013 at 11:29 am      Reply PeonInChief Says:

    Oh, what I’d so want to do with the data: excluding the two choices that were clearly wrong, what was the distribution of kids who chose one of the right answers–50/50, 65/35, 85/15? And then what do those who chose one answer over the other have in common–class, race, sex? And then, which kids got the right right answer. It may not be an issue of close reading, but one designed to give richer, whiter kids an edge.

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