Saturday, May 9, 2009


It's been a very informal month for learning. There has been some catch-up at school since weather lost them a week and the school opted not to extend the school year. They also spent three days taking the Iowa Basic Skills Test. He said he likes taking tests! He was sad when it was over and they went back to doing all their regular school work. In all honesty, I always liked testing week too.

Here's my example of why testing does not always work:

When I was a sophmore in college, I was really having a hard time finding a minor for my math major. I had tried accounting and computer science but didn't like either one. So I took an Introduction to Secondary Education class and decided that I would do that. However, that was not a minor, but a certification. I still needed a minor. I heard that the university was giving CLEP tests and although it had been two years since I had taken Spanish in high school, I decided to try that. I was pretty sure I could pass and semi-enjoy Spanish classes, but I didn't want to be behind on my four-year schedule. And if I didn't get a job teaching Math, I could maybe get one teaching Spanish. Perfect!

So, I signed up and went to the CLEP test one Saturday. Part of the exam was a tape (no, not a CD...I'm that old!) of someone reading a short paragraph in Spanish and then reading aloud a question and the A through D answer choices. I really didn't understand the gist of most of that, picking out 3 or 4 words here and there that I grabbed onto. The second part was a little easier, since I had written paragraphs to read and I could take my time. Still I left there thinking I had not done very well. At the very least, I didn't deserve any credits.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I received 6 hours in college credit! This was enough to start me in 200 level classes and make my 4 year time line.

As an aside, I miscounted on my 4 year timeline. Oh, I had all the credits I needed to graduate with a double major in Math and Spanish, but I forgot to count in the Student Teaching semester for my teaching certificate when I was organizing my education classes on my schedule. Never did get that teaching certificate...

Now, back to the present day. Now I realize getting accurate information out of a five-year old is not always the easiest thing to do, but I wanted to know what his test was like. I asked him questions:
"Did you have to count anything?"
"Did you have to read anything?"
"Did you have to complete a pattern?"
"Well, can you give me an example of a test question?"
"There were pictures in our booklet and Mrs. Oakley asked us to find the picture of the girl eating lunch and fill in the bubble."
What?!!?? What could this possibly tell you about what the child is learning?
"Was there anything on your test besides pictures?"

See what I mean? While tests may be fun for me and my child, they don't appear to be an accurate gauge of either our knowledge or intelligence.

No comments:

Post a Comment