This week we began investigating the role of assessment in education through various readings including our core text for the course, Classroom assessment: what teachers need to know by James Popham. We were asked to consider, “What standardized tests have you completed? …and… Did taking any one (or all) of these help you demonstrate evidence of learning? Which one?”
In addition to the annual CTBS tests I was subjected to in my elementary years, I have taken the SAT and most recently, Praxis I to round out my experience with standardized testing. All of them provided some evidence of learning. All the tests were effective at measuring information that I had attained in the time-period prior to taking the test. However, at this point many years later, I barely can recall even the style of question from the SAT, and I am aware recent iterations look very different from the test I took in the early 1990’s. For that reason, (possibly thankfully) I don’t believe there is a convenient, direct comparison between my secondary school testing and those that students are subjected to today.
Standardized testing provides a means to quantify student and educator performance in a format accessible for common evaluation and interpretation. In one way, standardized testing can ‘level a playing field’ both for students and educators by pushing everyone through a uniform filter. However, standardized tests cannot accurately account for the diversity of learners or the inequity in educational environments.
With the adoption of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) the ‘leveling of the playing field’ will begin to be represented nationwide. Further, CCSS brings greater rigor to nearly 2/3rd of the States who have adopted these new broadly implemented standards (Popham, 2014). However, CCSS does not resolve the issue of the varying interpretations of standards or the differences (and often unfortunate disparities) in the materials or strategies used to implement standards based instruction (D’Agostino, Welsh & Corson, 2007).
In the county where I am teaching 8th grade Science, this year my students will take both PARCC tests in addition to the MSA Science test. The MSA is a remnant of the NCLB legislation that has not yet reached its expiration. This amount of testing I believe is preposterous, especially in the context that these tests will provide limited to no direct benefit to my students achievement of their educational goals. In this context, my students will not benefit from the guided decision-making purported by Popham as a primary benefit of assessment as they will have all dispersed to various high schools with no direct relationship with their previous experience to facilitate modifications or adaptations to their learning (Popham, 2014).
D’Agostino, J.V., Welsh, M.E., & Corson, N.M. (2007). Instructional sensitivity of a state’s standards-based assessment. Educational Assessment, 12(1), 1-22.
Popham, W. James. (2014). Classroom assessment: what teachers need to know. Pearson Education, Inc.