11/17/2007

Standardized Tests > Grades

This article addresses the issue that students’ grade point averages are not good predictors of how they will do on standardized test, because teachers give students good grades really easily without ensuring that the students have learned all of the information that the course. Therefore, this author suggests that failure of students should be allowed to happen more regularly in order to allow for a more efficient and competitive market of students.

7 comments:

Logan said...

This is an interesting concept, however the real question should be, 'are we getting practical results from our standardized tests?'

As a barrier to entry to graduate school, I had to take a standardized test. Most of those questions have never been nor will ever be a part of my professional career, yet not being able to pass them would have impeded me from furthering my education and potential my economic growth.

Einstein believed that unless we teach students how to think (instead of what to think) we as a society will never reach a full potential utilization of our resources and will always have inefficient markets.

I personally would rather have a teacher guide me down a path of intellectual enlightenment and wisdom than a teacher that makes me memorize a bunch of formulas, facts, and figures that avail me nothing.

Hailey said...

Often times there is little in common between a student's GPA and their grades on a standardized test. At least where I grew up, there were students who were smart just didn't apply themselves in class because it wasn't "cool." They might have had a lower GPA, but they did very well on the standardized test. Likewise, some of the students with higher GPAs were not necessarily smart, but studied very hard to get their good grades. When the standardized test came along they did poorly, at least compared to their GPA.
I agree with Sophie that GPAs are not a good predictor of the results of a standardized test, but I believe it is from reasons others than a teacher giving students an "easy A."

Dr. Tufte said...

I couldn't agree more. I'm not picky about using grades or test scores or whatever, but these things exist to help differentiate people. Why bother having them if they don't?

Interestingly, when I directed a Ph.D. program I had access to confidential data that allowed to assess whether grades and test scores could predict future success in our program. The answer was that they didn't.

Matthew said...

Dr. Tufte said that he assessed data and discovered that grades and test scores did not predicted success in school programs. I can see how this is true because an “A” at an ivy-league school is just not comparable to an “A” at a community college. I also agree that standardized tests are not the best at predicting success either. However, secondary schools and employers need some way to judge prospects, and a combination of grades and standardized tests seems to be the best solution we have currently. I do think that a lot of uneducated kids are passed on to the next grade level for social reasons, and they are falling further and further behind each year.

William said...

Dr. Tufte,
I personally am in favor of having a different type of test. Maybe we could form a test that is more like an interview that captures on someone's ability to write, communicate, and present ideas in an effective way. I know for me personally I am a horrible test taker and many times don't get the grades due to the class structure, yet probably know and understand more information than the A+ students.

Also I know that currently in our school system we seem to pass people that should not be passed. This is due to either not wanting to see them or pressure from administration that wants their school to look good even though they really aren't. I think we definitely need to be able to somehow make it unacceptable to have someone graduate from college that can't write or communicate effectively.

Trinity said...

Dr. Tufte's point is completely valid. I don't know why our school bothers with grades sometimes. Some of the least intelligent people I know have 3.9 GPAs. This is surely no indication of success or intelligence. Perhaps society should focus on building a better measuring stick instead of changing how grades are given.

Dr. Tufte said...

Matthew: within the school I was looking at (not ours), test scores didn't make much difference. But, I was already looking at a self-selected sample, so you have to tread carefully anyway.

William: I'm not sure how good a job I'm doing, but the reason I have iClickers, and blogging, and Aplia, and tests if for folks like you.