Don’t throw away student standardized tests – make them better

Courtesy of: Granada Hills CharterStudents learn about polynomials in Dam Janne’s Algebra 2 class.

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Over-testing students has increasingly become a political battleground in our public school system.

He sat out among the five interests listed on United Educators Los Angeles’ post-recovery platform. However, as reported by EdSource recently, we have a clearer understanding of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on students’ academic progress thanks to California Smarter Balanced Standardized Test Scores and Educational Progress (NAEP). The alarming declines in performance in both maths and English language arts reinforce the importance of having objective data for students available to clearly identify gaps in learning that need to be closed.

Standardized tests have been with us for thousands of years. The first recorded event can be found in the selection of ancient civil servants, as early as 2200 BC, and among the things candidates for government jobs were tasked with demonstrating proficiency in archery. Applicants were handed three arrows to shoot at an object of human size and shape while riding a horse. If all three arrows hit the target, a perfect result Two got to reach the goal are rated as Good; And if one arrow hits the target, it will be passes.

Over the past century, standardized testing in the United States has come in the form of multiple-choice exams and hours-long essays, which can be just as daunting (and with college admissions primarily on grades, perhaps just as daunting). We have now come to realize that these high-stakes assessments have fundamental flaws: gender, wealth, and racial bias and undermining outcomes through expensive prep courses that unequal opportunity; Even parental funded cheating.

Newcomers to the country tend to start speaking English before they learn to write in the language, but standardized tests often do not come in the form of a phonetic response except for the language tests themselves. The inability to provide equitable access to high school students with special needs during the pandemic has prompted lawsuits and accelerated a move away from the College Board Examination that was clearly forthcoming and in many cases badly needed. Many colleges and universities, including the University of California System, are dropping both the SAT and ACT as admissions requirements.

But this development leaves us with some inevitable questions: What lies ahead for us to collect data to track state and national progress toward a better-educated workforce? Should all standardized testing be thrown out in the battle against unhealthy over-testing and the high-risk risks we have come to understand? There is a projected shortage in America of millions of highly educated and skilled workers, and global economic competition is likely to continue its steady rise. It would be folly to deny ourselves a consistent means of measuring how our education system serves our youth – and by extension all of us.

The answer to student over-testing is not to eliminate all standardized testing, but to simplify and enhance the assessment process.

The on-site Smarter Balanced Program (or equivalent) should be able to stand on its own as a tool for meaningfully measuring ability for higher education and future employment, whether via college admission or apprenticeship. This measure also eliminates the costs of secondary exams for students and parents who cannot afford them, thus bridging the gap between families who have and those who do not. Transportation and access will be much less of a hurdle when the test site is a school site and the test is taken during school hours.

Fortunately, advanced education technology such as classroom bots can make standardized assessments more meaningful for both teachers and homeschool parents. In addition to data-driven machine learning that leads to greater precision and accuracy, AI doesn’t weigh in with emotion. Interactive assistive technologies have unlimited patience because they do not experience frustration like human educators and parents, as when children do not listen or understand, and may need the same instructions repeated many times; Or when estimating becomes too tedious and time consuming.

Machines can be coded to Not Scoring depends on the test taker’s gender, race, ethnicity, physical appearance, spoken accent, etc. and can be built to speak and understand multiple world languages, display visuals and lexicons, and transition from text to speech and back.

But the most important key here is designing test questions and formats as a component of multicultural teaching that celebrates diversity, whether for use on campus or at home. The aim should be broadened scope of test item banks and differentiated and equitable grading protocols for performance assessment, both of which adequately reflect the student’s cultural and linguistic background. This is also more doable with the help of AI. In effect, this personalization will pave the way for every child to benefit from an individualized educational program, not just children who are slated for special needs education.

Not that anyone wants or should want TikTok to dictate its future, but before you scoff, think of it like this: If TikTok can accurately predict which photos, songs, and videos you’ll like the most, why can’t algorithms similar to those with potential That the power of TikTok can be relied upon to predict which job tasks and therefore jobs you might enjoy the most and be more motivated to excel at, then suggest, but leave it up to you, to select a suitable course of study.


jani dam, Mathematics teacher and for 13 years was the school-wide testing and data coordinator for Granada Hills Charter in Los Angeles. She has been a professional teacher since 2000 and is a member of United Teachers of Los Angeles.

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