Thursday, May 26, 2011

Standrad* (for Standard*)

Standardized tests are things that students often dread. But now, thanks to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, teachers have good reason to fear them as well. Teacher evaluations in the past were based on the following algorithm: 20% student test scores, 20% local district tests, and 60% subjective classroom evaluations; last week Cuomo pushed through a measure that purportedly corrects the first component of that ratio to 40%. If teachers can not "teach to the test" well enough to markedly raise their students' test scores, it now looks as if they'll be out of a job. Many teachers feel that teaching students how to think is more important than teaching them testable facts, so think about this: tests can be manipulated, cheating in schools is rampant, underprivileged students tend to score lower on tests, and competition among teachers will surely erode esprit de corps and helpful cooperation. As one astute writer put it in a letter to the Albany Times Union the other day: "Using standardized test scores for evaluation and as a measure of teacher performance will only be fair and accurate if each teacher is provided with a group of standardized students." There were five examples of Standrad* in OhioLINK today and 107 in WorldCat. Standardize the spelling of this word in your library's catalog, thereby helping your students and other patrons locate materials concerning this critical education policy debate.

(Mimeographed chemistry tests, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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