Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Opus 2013-390: Standardized Testing Is Not the Problem

Standardized testing is too important to be left in the hands of educators.

The term is thrown around as if the people speaking know what they are talking about.  Standardized Testing is a tool that has been developed carefully and normed over a large population.  That means that the questions of the test are tested themselves to see if they are written correctly, clearly articulated and produce the desired result.  They should show what is desired to be tested.  This takes time and money. 

A standardized test cannot be thrown together by a bunch of people who have a political agenda.  Well, it can, and it is, but then it is not really a standardized test.  It is a social engineering tool.

A standardized test must then be administered correctly.  It must be given with a uniform time scale and the same preparation opportunities.  It is best at measuring real knowledge if there is no special preparation.  The current excuses for standardized tests are sometimes administered by substitutes and in widely varying surroundings.  In California we not only dedicated much of our teaching time to reviewing for the tests, we have a rating system on the State Content Standards that told us what would be the most likely questions asked.  With these “preparations” a better score did not mean better teaching or learning but good guessing on the things emphasized in review.

A standardized test must be interpreted correctly.  On my district we have been given tests that were prepared by people who used different textbooks and vocabulary than we had in class.  They asked questions that were not included in what we were covering.  We were then told to take the results the next year and use them to modify our teaching on a different group of students.  You don’t give someone apples to make a cherry pie and then tell them to use the result to make plum pudding. 

Most people who evaluate the results don’t know the difference between percent and percentile.  They don’t know the norm base or how to compare things.  For instance, if the entire country went down by 50% in their scores but your school only went down 25% you would look like you were the shining light of the educational system.  This kind of measurement simply compares you to the rest of the mob, not to a standard scale.  It is useful if understood and pointless in ignorant hands.

When used properly and interpreted correctly standardized tests can be useful tools.  Since neither is usually the case I find them a source of distraction and a waste of time.

homo unius libri


  1. These days tests are designed for and manipulated for the administrator's ego's, not the student's knowledge.

    1. And that puts the little red light on the big part of the problem.

      Grace and peace.

  2. I'm not an educator so I don't have your perspective, but from the view of once being a high school student, college student, parent of a student, and grand parent of a student, I kinda get a foggy idea of what the tests are trying to do. I guess I am frustrated that during the decades between me being a pre-literate child circling depictions of "things that go together" and today's battery of exams that are put to the students of varying ages, that we don't seem be any closer to a "universal system" than we were in the 1950's. (I messed up on the "depictions" when I circled "cup" and "spoon" as going together. It was a cultural thing; we never saw a "cup" and "saucer" going together in our home, but Mom and Dad did spoon sugar into their coffee).

    It kinda baffled me as a high school student that neighboring schools had different text books for common subjects, and different graduation requirements. As a tax paying adult, I still ask why is it that each school district seems to act like their students are different that others in neighboring districts?

    I guess I am saying that I am not against standardized testing and am frustrated that "the system" hasn't come close to something that we can be happy with.

    1. I am not against standardized testing either if it is interpreted correctly. It sounds like the test you are referring to with the cup and spoon was a form of IQ test. If that test was used to guide your future placement in the educational system then it was not interpreted correctly. If it was to see if you were ready to set the table, it may have been appropriate.

      I have kids who are in 8th grade who are considered gifted because they circled the cup with the saucer. They can't read or think and certainly don't know the difference between .357 and 308.

      I have seen supposedly standardized tests that ask those kind of questions about historical concepts. I know enough history and philosophy to know that the answer to the question would be disputed by informed adults and that at least two of the answers are equally acceptable. That is a poor test.

      My problem with making everyone have the same books is that I don't think there is any national entity that can make that decision better than a local school board. I used to cover the per-Columbian Indians of North American in my study of American history. Part of my approach was to have students pick a tribe and do research. I did an overview of the different cultural groupings. I had to stop covering that because some group of wise people did not include it in the new standards. As far as I can tell it was not included at another grade level.

      Education is first for laying foundations. After that much of the responsibility lies at the feet of the student. I would guess that the breadth of your knowledge and wisdom was not gathered sitting in a class before a guru but in your own reading, thinking and discussing.

      And the discussion continues...

      Grace and peace.


Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.