Debating Standards Tests

12/29/2008 10:39:00 pm

Last night on twitter I tweeted:

That started the exchange below between myself and Gary Stager. Chris Lehmann joined in and we had a lively debate. I've decided to archive it here in response to the various communications I've received about it. Maybe extend the conversation a bit.

Gary and I

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Chris Lehmann joined in. Chris' tweets should be interlaced with those of Gary and I above but summize.com doesn't do that. You can probably figure out where Chris' tweets fit in from the context of what came before.

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Ian Hecht added this to the debate:

These things happen on twitter. While it's happening it feels like something of moment. Time passes, passions cool, and we realize we haven't necessarily added something new to an age old debate but perhaps we've articulated our thinking, and reasons for believing as we do, a little bit better. We might also come to respect the reasoned positions of colleagues who disagree with us and walk away having learned something about ourselves and each other. Identifying Similarities and Differences is one of the most powerful instructional strategies don't you know. ;-)

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7 comments

  1. An interesting give and take and a fun read.

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  2. Thanks for splicing it together although this is one of the reasons to have a discussion using Plurk instead of Twitter. It would have been easier to follow on Plurk.
    Are you coming to EduCon, Darren? It would be great for you to have this conversation F2f with Chris and Gary (and others) as assessment is a huge topic. Being limited by 140 characters inhibits the discussion.

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  3. It might have been easier to follow on Plurk but Twitter is still where most folks are. ;-)

    I wish I could attend EduCon, for lots of reasons. Having a public, f2f chat with Gary and Chris on assessment would be fun. I suppose we could still do something like that with Skype, Adobe Connect, or Elluminate.

    The 140 character limit was both a hindrance and a help. It sort of kept us terse and focused. ;-)

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  4. Have to agree - twitter is where most folks are.

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  5. If you think of testing as taking a snapshot. If is a pretty good indicator of where a person is at a specific date and time.
    On the other hand like a snapshot it is a poor replacement for real life.

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  6. This is a great read and a fantastic post Darren! I live and try to work as a Digital Learning Consultant in Hong Kong, a country that does very well in PISA. I say "try to work" because the HK government is so proud of the PISA results that it uses it as vindication of very formal, traditional modes of teaching and testing. Secondary classes often have 40 students and tests are so high-stakes that a after-school industry has been spawned that elevates successful tutors to rock-star status.
    Meanwhile, these "successful" students know very little of the real world or how to apply what they have learned to make a difference in the world see http://xpatasia.edublogs.org/2009/02/02/is-strong-leadership-in-education-coming-anytime-soon/

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  7. @Brendan: True; I've heard Chris Lehmann describe test or quizzes as dropping in a dipstick to see where folks are at. Unfortunately, if that's the only measurement we take we get a very skewed picture. I think standardized testing has a place, but I wouldn't call it a place of honour. It's just one facet on a many sided gem.

    Boy! Good thing I don't teach English ... talk about your mixed metaphors!

    @Learning Solutions Asia: I didn't know that. The first thought that struck me was: "Hmm, so I wonder what it is exactly the PISA test measures? Mechanical skills or conceptual understanding?" Your comments suggest it's the former, which of course adds more support to Gary's contention that these sort of tests are destructive.

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