Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Anya Kamenetz Puts Standardized Testing to "The Test"

One of the strongest voices in the world of education writing - or really many issues facing young people pondering their future - is Anya Kamenetz, who has published several books of non-fiction and has written for NPR, Fast Company, and others. Kamenetz is now turning her attention to the complicated world of education accountability and standardized testing. As an education writer and parent, Kamenetz was looking to investigate the state of public education, but was surprised to discover how every conversation was completely consumed by discussions of testing. Thus, with her curious and insightful mind, she set out to answer "What Are Education Tests for Anyway?" She offers a bit of a primer on what tests are out there, and what they are supposed to mean.

Did that trigger scary memories of the 10th grade? Or are you just curious how you'll measure up?
If the answer is "C: Either of the above," keep reading. Tests have existed throughout the history of education. Today they're being used more than ever before — but not necessarily as designed.
Different types of tests are best for different purposes. Some help students learn better. Some are there to sort individuals. Others help us understand how a whole population is doing.
But these types of tests are easily confused, and more easily misused. As the U.S. engages in another debate over how — and how much — we test kids, it might be helpful to do a little anatomy of assessment, or a taxonomy of tests.

Her initial article for NPR has taken on a life of its own, and now Kamenetz is offer a much more comprehensive look at the testing issue in her soon-to-be released The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing, But You Don't Have to Be. While I have not read this work, I am looking forward to Kamenetz's observations and analyses, for I have appreciated all that I've read by her before. Let's hope she keeps the keenly critical eye on the issue of how obtrusive, and ultimately inconclusive, all this testing has become.

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