Friday, October 26, 2012

West Virginia Grade 8 Test 1931 Reflection

The 8th grade test given in West Virginia in 1931 is not something I could see myself using today. It lacks all of the components that would make up a good test today.

First, the questions are all the same format and require the student to regurgitate the memorized information. There are many flaws with this setup. It is a test made for a handful of students, there is no differentiation. There is one type of question, short answer, from the information the student should have memorized. This creates a lot of stress for the student and unfortunately is the type of test that shows what the student DOESN'T know instead of what the student does know. If the student is not good at answering short answer questions the test should be made up of a variety of question types to allow the student to showcase the information they know in the way they can best. If the student has the knowledge we should give them every possibility to show us that they know it.

Second, there are a lot of issues with the content. The material seems to touch upon only a couple specific ideas. Rather, a good test should encompass a variety of overarching themes. I agree that there are times where specific ideas are important to test but they can be worked into questions that involve more critical thinking skills. For example, question II asks the student to name one country. Instead this could be developed to ask the student to employ higher order thinking skills as well as naming the one country.

Finally, this test would never work today because I believe it lacks a few of the fundamental skills we are trying to teach. First of all, the test does not promote good teaching strategies. You can tell from this test that the teacher is simply drilling these facts into the students head so that the student can regurgitate the information and move on to the next grade. It doesn't teach the student how to live in the real world. A test today would include being able to show the information in relation to today's world and skills that are beneficial today.

Overall, the test seems to have worked for the time in which it was given. Today though, a test like this would never suffice. Instead, a good test would have a variety of options for a student to show us what they know, in the format that works best for them, employing their higher order thinking skills, and asking them to employing real world skills and strategies and use specific details to build a big picture instead of stopping at the specific details.

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