Thank You For Testing

If they ever make a version of Thank You For Smoking based on the testing industry, it will probably be based on Todd Farley's book, Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry. The NY Times published an op-ed by Farley yesterday about how one major issue with standardized tests is not the tests themselves, but people scoring them without accountability, consistency or any real interest in the outcome.

Farley tells one story of G.U.I. (grading under the influence):
My colleague and I were relaxing at a pool because we believed we’d already finished scoring all of the tens of thousands of student responses. Then a call from the home office informed us that a couple of dozen unscored tests had been discovered.

Because our company’s deadline for returning the tests was that day, my colleague and I had to score them even though we were already well into happy hour. We spent the evening listening to a squeaky-voiced secretary read student answers to us over a scratchy speakerphone line, while we made decisions that could affect somebody’s future.
While I think there's plenty to criticize about the tests themselves, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to point out another problem with standardized testing system in general that we're using to "fix" education in America.


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