As educators are pushed to improve students’ test scores, sometimes they run afoul.
In Atlanta, 8 former public school educators were sentenced to prison–three were sentenced to as long as seven years–for a conspiracy inflating student scores by “changing answers” to the tests.
Interestingly, in another article today, we see that not only are students put to the test, but so are job applicants.
In fact, “Eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administrator pre-hire tests in their job applications.”
While testing can certainly show some things, they can also miss the point completely.
I know some people that test wonderfully–straight A students, 100+ on all exams, 4.0 GPAs–and for the most part, they are wonderful at memorizing and prepping for the test…but sometimes, not much else.
Some of them have no practical knowledge, little critical thinking or creativity, and are even sort of jerky.
And others who test poorly may be well thought, articulate, hands-on, and good with people–I’d take a million of them.
“Failing the test” is not necessarily getting it wrong…it may just be errant to the current prevailing educational and professional testing system that values memorization and spitting back over insight, innovation, and practical skills.
The challenge is how do we compare and contrast students and professionals competing for schools and career advancement, if we don’t easily have something standardized like a test to rally around.
Maybe there is no getting away from more holistic assessments–where we look at bona fide life and career experience, a wide range of recommendations from teachers, coaches, and supervisors, hard and soft skills (including communications and interpersonal), professional and personal ethics, genuine interest in the pursuit, and the motivation to work hard and contribute.
Tests–students cheat, educators game the system, memorization and robotic answers are the name of the game to get the A, and boring homogeneity–but it’s often the easy way out to evaluating candidates for a phony success. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)