Sunday, August 26, 2012

Testing the Tests

Patrick Honner has done a series of posts critically evaluating the most recent New York State Math Regents Exam... interesting reading (and one suspects similar issues arise in other standardized tests across the US):

A few will say that nitpicking is going on, but as Patrick notes,
"...precision is important in mathematics; it should be modeled for students on official assessments.  And those writing these important exams should be familiar enough with the content to write precise and accurate questions."
"Tests should stand as models of mathematical content and practice for students; they should not reinforce bad mathematical habits..."
 ...and finally:
"The consistent appearance of erroneous mathematics on these exams calls into question their validity as a measurement of 'student achievement'."
One wonders if imprecise or ambiguously-worded composition has simply always been a problem in standardized testing, or has it grown worse in recent times (perhaps with the growth/prevalence of less-precise English exposition brought on by the Internet)?

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