Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Test scores can easily be corrupted."

"You shouldn't trust a test score unless it is validated with other information that corroborates it."
                            - Thomas Haladyna, Arizona State University

If the SAT, standard of standardized tests, is this bad, imagine how bad our fly-by-night TAKS would seem under such scrutiny.
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Nobody's Perfect. Neither Is the Test.
By KAREN W. ARENSON
April 2, 2006
New York Times
The incorrect scoring of 5,000 exams from the College Board's October SAT is a reminder that testing is not an exact science. But just how inexact is it?
The October errors occurred, in part, because some answer sheets had become damp and did not register correctly when they were processed.

Enlarge this imageTesting companies try to guard against errors where they can. The Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J., for example, which works on some tests with the College Board, has 700 people working to insure technical quality in test development. They scrutinize even small details like whether the size of the print on a page or the resolution on a computer screen affects performance.

"You decide what you want to measure, and then you have to make sure you are not measuring something else, like poor vision," said Ida M. Lawrence, senior vice president of research and development at the testing service.

Despite such efforts, problems crop up. Here is a sample.

Missed a line. A student racing through a multiple choice exam may skip a line on the answer form by mistake, and then put every answer that follows on the wrong line.

In a study of more than 100,000 SAT exams, computer scientists found that nearly 2 percent of the test takers made such mistakes. One of the study's authors, Steven Skiena, a professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said such errors could be identified by computer so that the student received what he called an appropriate score.

"If you can detect what they were thinking, you should score them for that," he said.

The College Board, which calls the practice "mis-gridding," says students should tell their proctors when they make such mistakes, and that their scores may be corrected. Of 1.5 million SAT tests taken last year, only about 100 students reported the problem. Or if they move quickly, they can simply cancel their scores.

Bear down. A New York City student who received a score of about 1800 on the SAT last June out of a possible 2400 took the test again in October, hoping to do better.

The student, who asked that her name not be used because she did not want other people to contact her, said her score plunged 360 points.

So she paid to have her October test scored again, by hand, an option that the College Board offers. Her score shot up 510 points.

The board said she had marked her answer form so lightly that the machine processor could not read many of the answers.

Missed a page. A Maryland student who was allowed to type his responses to the essay portion of an Advanced Placement exam because he had a disability, earned a 1, the lowest possible score on a scale of 1 to 5. When his exam was scored again by hand, his score jumped to a 5.

His mother, Judi Becker, said an official at the Educational Testing Service told her the typed pages, which had been appended to the regular answer sheet, had been overlooked, making it appear that the student had answered only two of the four essay questions.

Tryout questions. Proposed new questions are inserted into real tests for a tryout. Even though the questions do not count, they can throw students off, said W. James Popham, an emeritus professor at the University of California at Los Angeles who has also worked in test development.

"Some of these previously untried items are bloody awful, occasionally having no right answers at all," he said. "The test taker doesn't know that this is a 'no-count' item and, therefore, might be traumatized by being unable to answer it." Though not a frequent problem, he said, it does occur.

There are other testing problems that have less to do with external factors like paper and pencil and more to do with what goes on inside a student's head.

Thomas M. Haladyna, a professor of educational psychology at Arizona State University, said there was a range of everyday issues like test anxiety (a quarter of the population has it, he said), fatigue, lack of motivation and language problems for students who are not native English speakers.

"Test scores can easily be corrupted," he said. "You shouldn't trust a test score unless it is validated with other information that corroborates it."

With so many problems, are there any protections? Robert A. Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, which argues that tests are relied upon too heavily, recommends that when possible, students get copies of questions and answers, "both as a check on scoring accuracy and to learn from their mistakes in case they retake the exam."

"The unfortunate truth is that the fates of students — and their parents — are at the mercy of the testing industry," Mr. Schaeffer said. "Absent mechanisms for oversight and regulation, we have to hope they get it right."

22 Comments:

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new student organizarion has begun. Check out www.takssucks.com

 
At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Nan Carter said...

i dont believe in the TAKS test. I think our teachers need to teach our children everything instead of bits and pieces of material just to pass the TAKS test. I have heard from a friends teacher that we get a watered down version of material so that they can fit in the things we need to know for the test, and also when our kids go to college they are lost because they werent taught everything they need to know.

 
At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Hannah Carter said...

parents need to take a stand for thier children. The schools put too much pressure on students to pass, if you dont pass the exit level you dont get your deploma even if you have good grades, but dont do well on tests. Take it from me, the tests are hard! and they dont even cover what you learned that year, they cover what you learned the year before and how are you supposed to remember all of last year? The tests put a lot of not needed pressure on students, when 1 month after the TAKS we take exams. If schools need funding lets find some other way to dole it out, anything but such a huge test. As a person who just failed the exit level Math TAKS i have found out that if i dont pass it within a year i wont get my deploma. I have worked too hard in school, i want to cross that stage to get my deploma, not my certificate of completion.

 
At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Hannah Carter said...

i was just looking at a TAKS test from last year. It was sooooooooooooo much easier than this year. if we have to learn the same stuff why do they have to change the test?!?!?!?!

 
At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TAKS IS STUPID END IT FOREVER!!!
BOYCOTT!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am currently a junior at a high school in mesquite tx, and i have to write an arguementive paper for my english class. i will be writting a paper on why i feel the taks test is only pressure on students...and how if a student goes to school for 11 or 12 years they shoul OBVIOUSLY KNOW ENOUGH TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL!! THIS YEAR I HAVE TO TAKE THE EXIT EXAM TEST TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT I GRADUATE OR "WALK THE STAGE"....HONESTLY IT VERY DIFFICULT WHEN ALL YOU HEAR EVERYDAY IS TAKS THIS AND TAKS THAT.....IM VERY NERVOUS ABOUT THESE TEST THEY WILL BE GIVING US IN THE SPRING THAT WILL DETERMINE MY FUTURE~!!

 
At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have taken this test a million times in the math section and keep failing it by 1 question!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey,

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At 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah i took the math too and i keep failing it by one stupid question, this really sucks i have another one in 2 weeks and now i am so scared bcoz a stupid test approves of my diplma!

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The TAKS test could be used as one measure, but to base a person's future on a test is wrong. I have a Masters' degree and have studied human development for many years. This testing routine goes against everything that is normal to human development. Especially for students with disabilities. The testing help a student with disabilities gets is a joke. No one's life should rest on a single test.

 
At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the hole int in taks testing is so outragesly stupid. Also that there should be no more taks testing whats so ever. It is stressfull to every one even the teachers. So i would like to see that there are no more taks testing for any one. because, just one tasks test should not depend on wether you pass o fail for the year what so ever. The END!!!!!!!

 
At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not take all 4 years of regular math. and when it came time for that stupid taks test to come in to palce i did not get to pass. thanks a lot, dumb asses.
Why dont you come and we prepare a stupid test that determins wether you pass or not, and i be the judge of that!!!!!!!!!

 
At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, if you CAN'T pass it, then you're pretty stupid. I still think the tests are useless because they WASTE TIME. They are no-brainers though.

 
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At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TAKS TESTS ARE REALLY REALLY POINTLESS. IF YOU HAVE BEEN MAKING GOOD GRADES THEN THE TEST SHOULDNT DETERMINE WEATHER OR NOT YOU PASS. THAT IS NOT RIGHT IT'S UNFAIR. WHAT ID YOU HAVE TEST ANXIETY OR A DISABILLITY? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SUPPOESED TO DO THEN? YOUR STUCK! AND THOSE DUMB-ASSES WHO MAKE THE TESTS DON'T EVEN TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE FACT THAT THIS IS AFFECTING OUR FUTURE. THEY DON'T CARE. BOYCOTT BOYCOT!!

 
At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TAKS TESTS ARE REALLY REALLY POINTLESS. IF YOU HAVE BEEN MAKING GOOD GRADES THEN THE TEST SHOULDNT DETERMINE WEATHER OR NOT YOU PASS. THAT IS NOT RIGHT IT'S UNFAIR. WHAT ID YOU HAVE TEST ANXIETY OR A DISABILLITY? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SUPPOESED TO DO THEN? YOUR STUCK! AND THOSE DUMB-ASSES WHO MAKE THE TESTS DON'T EVEN TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE FACT THAT THIS IS AFFECTING OUR FUTURE. THEY DON'T CARE. BOYCOTT BOYCOT!!

 
At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Term Papers said...

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At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with everybody else, taks tests are a waste of time and don't measure your potential. For example, some questions might have more than one correct answer, but you have to choose the "best" answer. Sometimes both answers can be correct, right? But the main reason taks tests should be aborted is teachers really only direct their attention on the taks test. When I was in 5th grade, we did a taks passage on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, every week until after the taks test. Is this necessary? Of course not! Really, reading a book of your choice will sharpen your mind more than doing those silly passages. But to state my point, taks tests should be eliminated and promotion to the next grade should be based on your overall average.

-Going into 8th grade

 
At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have taken the ELA taks test like 5 times and I still keep on failing I get the same score on all my ELA taks test its staring to piss me of

 
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