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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):

http://mrhonner.com/2012/08/08/regents-exam-recap-june-2012/

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."
also:
"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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