Testing and Education

Doc Searls has some interesting things to say about education and testing. The fact of the matter is that tests don’t reveal what a student has learned and taking a test does nothing to teach the subject matter. Unfortunately, testing is the only way educators have found to measure their effectiveness as teachers and judge whether or not a student has mastered the curriculum.

I’ve got a son who tutors other students in his language arts class but his own grade in the class is bordering on failure. Why does he do this? He knows the subject matter and has demonstrated his mastery of all the concepts in classroom discussions so the teacher asks him to help those students who are struggling to understand but he doesn’t do well on the written tests and he doesn’t complete all his assignments in the class. I’ve had talks with his teacher and with him and I’m satisfied that he has mastered the subject matter so what does his grade really tell me.

Standing on its own I would summise that his problem is with the subject itself but in reality the problem is with his attitude towards doing the work in this class. Other classes he’s doing fine in, A’s and B’s,… or is he. I’m doubting the value of the grade in one class where the grade is showing he’s doing poorly why should I trust the grades that are telling me he is doing well?

For now I suppose we are stuck with what we have but a lot of effort ought to be going in to finding a suitable replacement.