Saturday, September 02, 2006

Standardized tests offer only two outcomes

I've never been against standardized testing for students as a way to test achievement and learning. I think that teacher accountability is important for America's long-term growth and stability. However, I've always held that standardized tests offer only two outcomes.

  • Teachers are doing a bad job because kids aren't passing


  • Tests are too easy because children are passing the test

Somehow, the WaPo managed to work BOTH options into their editorial this week when the results of the SAT scores came back lower than last year. The Washington Post had a near hemorrhage in their editorial with "the board says students aren't being taught grammar and composition as much as in the past. Anyone concerned with education, national competitiveness and the prospects for the next generation should also take to heart the board's worry: that high school students' skills aren't moving in the right direction."

Except, the SAT board was saying that to deflect criticism that their new test was excessively long and that scores had declined after they redesigned it.

So there you have it, the test is too hard AND the teachers are doing a bad job. Apparently you can have your cake and eat it, too.

For those interested, Matthew Yglesias effectively debunks the "dramatic decline" the WaPo laments.