Sunday, October 31, 2010

Down With Testing

Letter to Editor sent to the S.F. Chronicle on 10/31/10 (Published on 11/2/10)

It’s time the Chronicle publishes a full length editorial by a real classroom teacher who opposes more testing,  instead of the usual teacher bashing by CEOs, foundation heads and former teachers who’ve fled the classroom for more lucrative business degrees. 

Miki Litmanovitz (Sunday Insight) claims we need tests and that they are best assessment method we have. Both claims are false. There are many forms of assessment that yield far better data. As a science teacher, I learn far more about what my students have learned from their lab reports. I assess their understanding of lab techniques by observing them do labs. The questions they ask in class are often much more telling than their answers on multiple choice exams. Unfortunately, you’ll have to trust my professional judgment; it’s exceedingly time consuming and expensive to have outsiders do this for the entire state.

A single test is not a good measure of how much students have learned. A student may have complete mastery of science, but fail a multiple choice exam because she has test anxiety, poor literacy, a tooth ache, dyslexia, insomnia, or hasn’t eaten all day. More rigorous tests will not erase these problems.

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