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Hi. Local classes do well According to the St Paul Pioneer Press, the ACT scores for Minnesota and Wisconsin (class of 2006) led the nation. Congratulations to our neighbors to ...
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  1. #1
    drl
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    Too cold for anything else, apparently


    Hi.

    Local classes do well


    According to the St Paul Pioneer Press, the ACT scores for Minnesota and Wisconsin (class of 2006) led the nation.

    Congratulations to our neighbors to the east; Wisconsin exceeded Minnesota in the category of English (for the purposes of this post, they out-done Minnesota ... ).

    Overall the two states each averaged at least one point above the national average of 21.1. The maximum score for 2006 ACT is 36.

    So, apparently the cold weather up here is good for something besides snowballs, cheese, lakes, and the annual Minnesota-Wisconsin football game -- well done (or, well did, as the case may be) ... cheers., drl
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    Linux Engineer Javasnob's Avatar
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    w00t. Wisconsin pride!
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    Linux Guru techieMoe's Avatar
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    Good scores on standardized tests mean only that the student knows how to take standardized tests. Nothing more. I find it silly how much weight is thrown behing good SAT/ACT/GRE scores when there are plenty of examples of people who did quite well in college/grad school in spite of making terrible scores on standardized tests. Much like IQ tests, the results of these do not truly measure someone's intelligence or scholastic potential, they simply measure how well coached the student was for the test.
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    Linux Enthusiast apoorv_khurasia's Avatar
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    I agree with Moe on this point. Mug up some word lists one month before the exam (Maths is easy in these tests) and you get 1300+...whats the point?
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    drl
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    Hi, techieMoe.

    Potentially large subject area here. I think most people would agree that it is becoming very important to have knowledgeable citizens -- of the world as well as of any venue: one's neighborhood, city, state, country.

    Standardized tests are one method of evaluation. Are you disagreeing with the need for evaluation of students (and therefore to some extent, teachers, curricula, materials, administration, etc.), or with standardized tests?

    What would you propose as one or more alternatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by techieMoe
    ... people who did quite well in college/grad school in spite of making terrible scores on standardized tests...
    In any large population, there will always be some fraction for whom tests are not useful for evaluation. The questions are, it seems to me, 1 ) "are the means of evaluation applicable for most people?", and, 2) "do the evaluations ultimately serve a useful purpose for society?". These will lead to other questions and issues, but appear to be most germane here.

    Regrettably the article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standardized_testing seems to be missing a number of citations, so it's unclear upon what data the statements and conclusions are drawn. I didn't look too deeply, but the University of Michigan has some information on evaluation http://www.wmich.edu/evalctr/jc/

    cheers, drl
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    Linux Guru fingal's Avatar
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    Please forgive me for butting in here, but I agree with Moe on this. I have strong views, because here in the UK my generation had to take the 'Eleven Plus' which decided whether we were streamed into the 'grammar school' or 'secondary modern' system.

    Basically, the grammar school kids were the ones who ended up at university ... Low Eleven Plus grades would ensure that you were thrown on the scrap heap and that you would leave school with Mickey Mouse qualifications ... which I did. Children believe what adults tell them. In my case they told me nothing at all.

    Years later I found out that the 'adults' were misguided, and I went back to school ... I 'learned how to learn' and got into university, leaving with a good honours degree a few years later.

    Standardised tests mean very little imho, and are just part of our obsession with measuring things. True education is about developing well rounded intellects, drawing out hidden abilities, personal growth, good citizenship and producing civilised adults who are capable of synthesis. It's not ultimately about measuring people, although this is always a part of the process. In other words, it's an important part of becoming a better person: or it should be.

    I hope more and more people will be encouraged to learn and to grow in this way. It's a good journey to take.
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    Linux Engineer d38dm8nw81k1ng's Avatar
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    i have to say that i agree with moe too. the current qualifications in the UK are GCSE at high school, A-Level at college (which i'm taking now) and the degree at uni. i've finished my first year of college and got exam results of 3 Bs and an A. (computing, business, law and maths respectively). my computing exam consisted of nothing more than writing words down to guess the answer (if you didn't know it) and is a really poor way of comparing students. i agree that there need to be methods to compare students after education as some way of evaluating people to go on to university or for jobs. i just think the current method is pathetically flawed. in truth, if i could be bothered, i would have revised and got high A's in all four subjects. the exams don't demand flair or ability for subjects and are mostly a test of how much a student can memorize.
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    drl
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    Hi, fingal.

    By all means welcome, and thanks for telling us your experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by fingal
    True education is about developing well rounded intellects, drawing out hidden abilities, personal growth, good citizenship and producing civilised adults who are capable of synthesis. It's not ultimately about measuring people, although this is always a part of the process. In other words, it's an important part of becoming a better person: or it should be.
    You didn't tell the part of your story about how you "got into university", but clearly determination and passion were part of it. I wish every student could feel that desire. Did you need to re-take the 'Eleven Plus', or was there some other means by which you were able to get in?

    Perhaps true education is not really obtained easily at university, perhaps it's far more about how you live your life and react to circumstances that befall you on your journey.

    I agree that education is not ultimately about measuring people, but what do you suggest as an alternative to standardized tests? ... cheers, drl
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    Linux Guru fingal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drl
    Hi, fingal.

    By all means welcome, and thanks for telling us your experience.

    You didn't tell the part of your story about how you "got into university" ...
    Hello - thanks for responding to what was probably a borderline rant! The Eleven Plus has since been abolished and was only taken by children under the age of 12 as far as I remember. However, the outcome of that test could haunt a child for many years afterwards ... It was not expected that the majority of children would be enabled to attend university. The system was - in my view - entirely cynical.

    I worked in industry for several years, and there I was encouraged by some very kind people to apply for university. I had no exam techniques, no study skills but a lot of innate abilities which I chose to ignore! Other people were more aware than I was of these, and I was persuaded to go to night school. I did this (with some gaps in between) for 3 years, and got into university. I learned study skills from one or two books, and just by applying these techniques. I also learned how to use my memory ... Thank you Tony Buzan: you changed my life. And not in a small way.
    Perhaps true education is not really obtained easily at university, perhaps it's far more about how you live your life and react to circumstances that befall you on your journey.
    Yes I believe so. An academic approach can never be the complete answer. However, the act of learning, and of meeting people, can alter the course of your life. Indirectly, I am only on this forum because of it. It's a side effect, and is related to my current profession as an informal 'sideline'.
    I agree that education is not ultimately about measuring people, but what do you suggest as an alternative to standardized tests? ... cheers, drl
    The act of becoming an educated person is - I think - more important than any test which can be applied. I don't entirely know the answer to your question, but only because I'm aware that 'grading' people is something which employers use to decide 'who's the best person for this job?' In general, I've found that 'the best people' are usually the worst people: but with some exceptions. I think the exceptions would have been good in any case, without their grades.

    I think the answer is not to abolish standardised tests entirely, but only to use them as a way of guiding individual students through the education system so that they can monitor their own progress. Once a student has completed a course to his or her own satisfaction, then they should be awarded their degree. Yes of course! There should be measures in place to prevent this from being abused. The process of selecting people for jobs should have nothing to do with academic grades. I know this leaves an enormous black hole and raises huge questions, but that's my view.

    To this people will say 'radical!' and 'impossible' etc. etc., but to those people I would say: 'Take a good look at the world around you' ... Is it a happy place? Have hundreds of years of grading, measuring, selecting and categorising improved the world? Really? How sure are you about saying 'Yes you fool.' I think encouraging what I think of as real education would not solve all the world's issues, but I think that ignorance leads to poverty, poverty leads to sickness and sickness leads to decline. This isn't just true of individuals but of whole societies ... It seems a pity that I achieved what I did not because of my early educational experiences, but in spite of them.
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  11. #10
    Linux Guru techieMoe's Avatar
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    Standardized tests are one method of evaluation. Are you disagreeing with the need for evaluation of students (and therefore to some extent, teachers, curricula, materials, administration, etc.), or with standardized tests?
    I don't disagree that having some sort of metric to judge the effectiveness of our school systems is a good thing. What I disagree with is the current type of standardized tests we have. I believe they are poorly created, unfair to certain ethnic groups, and greatly over-weighted in importance. The real reason for a standardized test is to test the schools, not the students. American culture has been beating the opposite into schoolchildren's heads for decades.

    What would you propose as one or more alternatives?
    Practical examinations. Don't ask a kid to tell what the oncoming velocity of Train A is when it leaves the station at 8:32am going 65 miles an hour. Ask them to balance a checkbook. Ask them to figure out basic interest on a car loan or a credit card balance. Ask them something that matters. I'm going to try and keep this confined to standardized tests, because I have very strong feelings on the way overall education is taught in my country.

    In any large population, there will always be some fraction for whom tests are not useful for evaluation. The questions are, it seems to me, 1 ) "are the means of evaluation applicable for most people?", and, 2) "do the evaluations ultimately serve a useful purpose for society?". These will lead to other questions and issues, but appear to be most germane here.
    Ok. Statistically speaking, immigrant Mexicans and blacks are the majority in my section of the country. The standardized tests used by my state have been shown to unfairly benefit white, middle class children. I would say at least in my state that the tests are not useful for most people. Secondly, do standardized test serve any useful purpose? I would argue no. All they served to do for myself and my closest friends was impose an artificial standard to which we had to stress to obtain in a time of our life that was stressful enough as it is.

    Many of my gripes about this are well illustrated in the book The Overacheivers by Alexandra Robbins. She is a graduate of a "prestigious" university (Yale) who followed around a sampling of students from around my country to see what they're forced to deal with on a daily basis. What she found was that education is no longer about "learning", it's about teaching the students how to pass standardized tests. The tests should be evaluating the teaching methods of the schools, not dictating their curriculum.
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