ENGL 101 Section 6

Forum for students in ENGL 101 Section 6, Spring 2012, Washington State University

    stephanie webb assignment 4


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    Post  stephanie.webb on Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:04 am

    Right before most high schoolers apply for college they will have to take some kind of standardized test. The most common test are the SAT (Standard Aptitude Test) or the ACT (American College Test). These are both high stakes test because they are to be taken very seriously and there are a lot of factors weighting up what will happen to if a student gets a high or low score. However, there are many people who believe that the knowing how many bathrooms one has in their house tell more about the student then their score from the SAT.
    According to the article The case against standardized testing; raising scores, ruining the schools, by Alfie Kohn, standardized tests are “not only unnecessary but highly dangerous” (Kohn). I completely agree with this. Many of these test especially the high stakes tests put un needed stress on students. Kohn talks about how standardized tests were originally used to place students or to see what kind of help they need in various subjects, but now they are published in newspapers and schools, school systems, and states are getting competitive to see who has the highest schools or places in the top percentile. The results of these tests have also been utilized to see where money should be spent as well as deciding whether a student should pass a grade or not. In another article written by Kennith Jost, he talks about an incident where they debated doing just that,
    “In Ohio, the backlash against testing focused on a rule that would have required fourth-graders to pass a reading proficiency test before promotion. About 58 percent of fourth-graders passed the test in spring 2000. Had the rule been in effect, 42 percent of the state's 128,000 fourth-graders -- 53,000 children -- would have been held back” (Jost).
    Luckily this never happened, but if it had many children would not be able to pass a certain grade due to the result of one measly test. Instead if teachers were all give the same materials and then same test to use when teaching their students all the school board would have to do is take all the grades at the end of the year to figure out what schools are having difficulties teaching the students the provided material.
    Kohn also brings to our attention that the tests are manufactured and then given out, students and/or schools don’t do well on them so then the test manufactures end up making even more money by selling test prep materials in order to help raise the scores. This article also talks about how politicians use the results from these tests to show the public that they are aware of the quality of education. Kohn also bring to the audience’s attention that
    “The results may sound scientific, but they emerge from the interaction of two sets of human being; the invisible adults who make up the questions and the rows of kids, scrunched into desks, frantically writing (or filling in bubbles)” (Kohn)
    This shows that some students are super stressed about standardized testing and tend to do poorly on them because of it, while other students just fill in random bubbles. The article also points out that the questions asked on the test for the science and social studies portions will ask students to remember boring material that most adults don’t even know off the top of their head like the four freedoms mentioned by Franklin Roosevelt (Kohn). The tests aren’t exactly too hard they just have students recall a bunch of random information that most people don’t know. Kohn also brings to our attention that they have found a “statistical association between high scores on standardized tests and relatively shallow thinking.” Students who tend to do well on these kinds of tests don’t really understand the subject of the question. Also “a multiple choice test simply, “does not measure the same cognitive skills as are measured by similar problems in free-response form” (Kohn). Usually when there is a free response section, it’s usually and essay section and the people who are grading the essay are just looking for certain points and they at most look at your essay for about ten seconds. If you spend a good amount of time thinking and processing what you are going to write on an essay portion one would hope that the grader would at least read the whole thing and not just skim over it. The truth those is that some graders get bonuses for grading so many essays in a particular amount of time. If the grader is too worried about getting their bonus how accurate are the grades going to be? I think that they aren’t very accurate and they just slap on whatever grade they feel necessary after giving the essay a quick glance.
    This article also brings our attention that most of these tests are timed and students are more worried about answering all the questions with in that time period, rather than properly thinking through the problem in order to find the correct answer. In the SAT for every question you answer wrong it subtracts one fourth of a point, so some students tend to leave more answers blank because they don’t want to lose that one fourth point and then would spend the extra time on problems they know that they can answer correctly. However, if a student does not know the majority of the questions and they don’t answer them they will still end up getting a low score. I think that if the University’s they are applying too would write their own placement exams the scores will be a lot more accurate.
    Another thing Kohn talks about is how norm-referenced tests like the SAT just shows people that their student is better or worse them another student, while a criterion reference test just places students in a percentile. An example of this is being the tallest kid in your class even though the shortest kid in your class is only a half inch shorter than the tallest kid. Showing that just because a student is in the top percentile does not really mean anything because the student could be 2 points about the lowest scoring student.
    Another problem that this article addresses regarding standardized tests is that when a student repeatedly does poor on these test, because they may not be the greatest test taker, their teacher may resent them because they will lower the class average on these test and the teacher may not get their bonus because their class isn’t performing up to par. A teacher may also even make the student repeat a the grade in hopes that they will do better next year on the test. Teachers then begin to teach in a way for their students to do well on the test which inadvertently lowers the quality of the students education, but they test results won’t show that. Some school systems will bribe or punish their teachers in order to raise the test scores, which create “high-stakes” testing, which then just causes more stress. The teachers are pressures to get their students to perform better so they can get their bonus or reward if they meet their supervisors goal. I agree with how the Kohn article states how education can be improved with “smaller class sizes, rising overall spending on education and a court-ordered equalization of resources between schools” (Kohn).
    In the article Two Cheers for Standardized Testing, by John F. Covaleskie, it talks about how testing can “enhance both equality for the poor and democratic governance in general.” I do not agree with this because how does testing enhance the equality for the poor schools when the poor schools tend to do badly on standardized test and then they lose funding because of their poor results. This article argues that with testing, it can provide evidence that yes, in fact our education system is poor, but here is where we need to improve it. This would be true if the tests were better written and were actually testing students on stuff they learned in class and not tiny minor details the average person does not remember.
    This article also talks about how testing isn’t very accurate, but instead of totally getting rid of it, we must work on ways to improve it and its accuracy to how our school systems are really doing. Covaleskie also believes that “we owe the community as much information as we can provide about how their children are doing in our care.” He has a point; everyone pays for public schools in taxes, so they have a right to know how the public school system is doing in their area. Also standardized test provide us with the information that
    “economic and socio-culture differences between school districts in this country mean that there are also substantial differences between education in one place and education in another, even nearby place” (Covaleskie).
    With the results of testing we can decide which schools need more money in order to provide better material to the schools that are below average. However, if the money was spent on the schools that did poorly on the test in order for them to improve their education and then schools that end up doing well get a little prize or something, the tests wouldn’t seem as high stakes to people. The tests also show the students who aren’t as prepared as the rest to go and receive higher education or a well-paying job. This can be very disappointing especially if a student who gets super good grades and then takes this test and gets the test back and the test tells them that they seem fit to be a garbage man or a taxi driver.
    The Covaleskie article also points out the problems with “high-stakes” testing and when teachers “teach to the test” the students overall education quality will go down. A while back an article was written about if students should be tested annually with standardized tests. There was a lot of negative feedback, but politicians really wanted to know how the schools were doing with teaching students, what the test thought was necessary to know. In the article former President Bush stated that, “testing will help teachers to improve student achievement and allow parents and public officials to hold schools and school districts accountable for their performance” (Jost). Teachers and some parents will argue that this is wrong because teachers will be more inclined to prepare their students for the test which is then taking away from valuable teaching time, when the teachers could be teaching their students things that they will actually be using in their future education.
    This past December and article was published in the New York Times that talked about how students will no longer have to take a particular high stakes test this April, that is usually required for them to take (Hu). Instead the students will take a test that will have questions on it that the students will be asked but the questions will not count against their score. Instead these questions are included in the test in order to see how the tests can be improved and more accurate. I feel that this is a step in right direction. This particular school district is stepping away from tests that are created by people far away from where they are given and have a bunch of random questions in it where the majority of the students tend to get wrong. This article also talks about how the school super intendant thinks it’s ridiculous for a third grader to be expected to sit for three hours and focus on their test when their attention span is relatively short compared to high schoolers (Hu). An education professor from Fordham University asks,
    “is the purpose of education just to identify weaknesses through accountability measures? Or is the purpose to expand the child's learning with knowledge and vocabulary, and give them the opportunity to discuss and think at a higher level?” (Hu).
    I feel that these are valid questions, what is the purpose now a day for these tests. They were originally given out to see how the school systems were comparing with the rest of the region/country, as well as to assess the educations currently given in our school systems.
    In conclusion I am against the way standardized testing is done today. I feel that if some things about it were changed I may have a different opinion about it. For example if the tests didn’t take up a whole afternoon, and were just like a quick little survey that assessed what a student has learned over the past few weeks in school I would feel differently. Personally I think the school system would be more effective in finding out what their students are learning in retaining if they gave them little surveys once every few months that took no more than 45 minutes to complete that would ask questions that were relevant to what the students are supposed to know by a certain time period. I understand having the SAT as a test that a student must take to get in order to be accepted to certain colleges, but I feel like it needs to be re-written so it is more accurate and shortened by a lot. After taking the SAT it was the longest test of my life and I knew going into the test that it wasn’t very accurate, I really didn’t want to have to retake it regardless of my score. All in all I think the overall idea of what standardized test was created for is there, but the way they are executed needs to be changed drastically.

    Is my intro and conclusion ok?
    How can I make this longer without out rambling?
    Does it flow nicely?

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    stephanie webb assignment 4 Empty Marlayna lockwood's response to Stephanie Webbs's post

    Post  MLockwood on Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:31 pm

    Three Questions answered:
    1.Your introduction was good, it could be longer and maybe include more information about your essay in your intro. The conclusion was very good, I liked how it focused on more your personal view about standardized testing.
    2.To make your essay longer I would suggest adding more blocked quotes and for a more in-depth explanation of what the quotes mean to the reader.
    3. The flow of your essay was good, it wasn't choppy or confusing.
    Three things you did well:
    1.The use of your quotes really strengthened your arguments.
    2.I liked the conclusion, it brought the entire essay together.
    3.Your language was good in terms of work choice.
    Three things you could improve on:
    1. The Thesis statment could be more clarified. From reading your thesis I could really tell what your essay was going to discuss so maybe writing the topics you will discuss in your essay could make your thesis stronger.
    2.Maybe the use of transition sentences could help the flow of your essay and connect your thoughts better.
    3.Adding more to your introduciton would help lengthen your paper as well as creat a stronger opening for your paper.
    One question I have:
    1.I am a little confused with your thesis statement. I am not sure how the bathroom comment relates to your upcoming arguments.

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    Post  tonya.krienke on Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:13 pm

    your questions:
    1. your intro is a little bit short and your conclusion is good
    2. block quotes and explaining them in depth
    3. yes

    good job:
    1. giving your opinion in the essay
    2. had some really good quotes
    3. nicely wrote

    work on:
    1. you have a few speeling errors
    2. your intro paragraph doesnt talk about standardized testing only SAT's and the ACT's
    3. adding the page numbers to your citations

    my question:
    1. where is your thesis? it doesn't really look like you have one

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    Join date : 2012-02-24

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    Post  AFeldhaus on Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:14 pm

    3 questions
    1) I think your intro could be longer and explain more about your position on these tests,. make it more clear whether your against or for them.
    2) Block quotes is a good idea. Or bring up more examples of why standardize tests are bad for education
    3) I liked the flow, it was easy to follow
    Did well
    1) I liked your body paragraphs, I think you did a good job explaining your position
    2) Your conclusion was very well done and its a strong conclusion
    3) You used quotes at the right time and convincing quotes
    1) You could explain the quotes more in depth and talk about what exactly they mean
    2) Improve your intro and make that stronger
    3) Add more block quotes would help back up your points and make your paper longer

    1) What is your thesis statement? or what's your position on this issue? that should be clearly stated in the intro

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