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Topic: Teacher Training and Student Assessment: At Odds?"
Replies: 3   Last Post: Jun 18, 2013 3:31 PM

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Alain Schremmer

Posts: 876
Registered: 10/10/05
Re: Teacher Training and Student Assessment: At Odds?"
Posted: Jun 18, 2013 10:46 AM
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On Jun 17, 2013, at 9:46 PM, Domenico Rosa wrote:

> The June/July 2013 issues of NOTICES of the AMS at
> contains the DOCEAMUS column "Teacher Training and Student
> Assessment: At Odds?" by Michael Bardzell and Jennifer Bergner on
> pp. 763-764.
> In the second paragraph, they make the following points about the
> high-stakes testing racket:
> "The questions are multiple choice or require short expository
> responses that do not reveal if a student has deep understanding of
> a topic. [...] this encourages teaching of these concepts in a
> linear and formulaic manner which does not emphasize connections
> between ideas. It also encourages teachers to turn the month before
> the state test into multiple cram sessions on how to do procedure X
> when the key word/phrase Y is used in test questions."
> The December 1992 issue of FOCUS, the newsletter of the Mathematical
> Association of America, contained a copy of a Japanese University
> Entrance Examination in mathematics. This examination is machine-
> graded, but it is not multiple-choice like our idiotic tests. The
> students must enter the answer to each problem in a grid, just as
> they do on a few math problems on our SATs. Why is it that the
> testing-racket crowd does not use the Japanese answer sheets? Is
> this crowd afraid that the continuing pseudo-education of American
> students would be exposed more fully?

I am not familiar with "our idiotic" multiple choice tests but have no
doubt that they are as idiotic as the corresponding textbooks. Per se,
though, multiple choice tests need not be idiotic and can be a mere
least evil. Here are a couple of examples:

(1) The solution of the equation -3x + 6 = 0 is:

(a) Between ?? and -10
(b) Between -10 and -1
(c) Between -1 and +1
(d) Between +1 and +10
(e) None of the preceding.

(2) Let f be the function specified by the input-output rule x ------>
f(x) = [x^2 -1] / [x^3 +8]. What is the sign of the concavity near -2?

(a) (u,u)
(b) (u,n)
(c) (n,u)
(d) (n,n)
(e) None of the preceding.

where, here, "u" stands for "cup" (concave up) and "n" stands for
"cap" (concave down).

For many more examples, see <>


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