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What does "doesn't test well" mean?

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You keep equating "real world" scenarios with the intentional distractors in standardized tests. It's not comparable.

 

If you don't see how your statements might be insulting to those who suffer with anxiety, I don't know how to make that more clear to you.

 

The examinations CAN BE a measure of performance, but depending on the student and test, that is not always the case.

No examination or classroom experience is exactly comparable to real world scenarios.  What I am saying is that people have to deal with distractors in the real world.  These distractors are often much more intentional in the real world in that their purpose is to mislead or confuse.  Often on exams these distractors are not "intentional" in that their intent is to mislead or distract--they simply represent wrong answers that many students who incorrectly work the problem will get.  

 

The results of an exam are a measure of performance--they are a measure of the performance on that exam under the circumstances the exam was given.  How that performance should be interpreted and whether it measures how an individual would perform in a different situation are questionable.  

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It is not necessarily "bad" but it moves the test from content driven to a higher percentage of test *taking* skills driven. Many brains do just fine with it, but for those who have anxiety or some other barrier to success for these types of test, the test does NOT measure that student's actual aptitude or knowledge content.

 

I still don't understand.  Consider the question:  1/2 + 1/3.

 

One set of possible answers, with "distractors" is (Kiana's example):

 

5/6, 2/5, 1/6, and 3/2

 

another set of possible answers is

 

5/6, 0, 100, pi

 

I would say that the first one (with "distractors") is just a better test.  The second one, perhaps a student with better test taking skills could get the right answer without even doing the problem.  Are you saying that you daughter would do substantially better on the second test because of anxiety?  I would say the first test is more content driven and the second test can be gamed more easily.

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Yes, I think there is a sense that if your kid has always struggled with something as important as tests, you should have already figured out that she's not good college material, and you don't get to grieve that as your kid approaches college age. But if your kid is doing well in school, you have a right to get your hopes up for a fancy college and then grieve that when your child bombs the big test.

 

As the parent of a child who is bright and has many positive qualities, but has trouble with various school evaluation tools, I still have hopes for her. I hope that she has the opportunity to meet her considerable potential and enjoy a positive college experience. I am not going to give up, grieve, and get over it before she is a full-fledged adult.

Yeah, it is pretty discouraging to hear people who don't test well shouldn't be on the College Board in the first place.

 

Couple that with the recent (last couple decades) push that today's BS/BA is the equivalent of a high school diploma now (required for many, many basic and entry level positions now when it wasn't in years past) and it is even more discouraging...

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Yeah, it is pretty discouraging to hear people who don't test well shouldn't be on the College Board in the first place .

My brother don't test well all his academic life. He went to a hands on community college equivalent and then onto university to get a BEng. He would not have survived in an academic structured (less hands on tests) engineering course. For some people it is really all about fit like Laura said.

 

My younger who is slower in speed than his brother is very good at guessing and eliminating for multiple choice. MCQ tests are really a bad indicator of what he knows (as in he scores a lot higher than what he know).

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You keep equating "real world" scenarios with the intentional distractors in standardized tests. It's not comparable.

 

If you don't see how your statements might be insulting to those who suffer with anxiety, I don't know how to make that more clear to you.

 

The examinations CAN BE a measure of performance, but depending on the student and test, that is not always the case.

 

I don't understand why it is necessary to walk on eggshells when discussing the design of an objective test.

 

I thought the whole point of objective tests is that it takes out the whole "personal" aspect and levels the playing field in many ways.

 

A child getting a low or high MC test score, or finding an objective test difficult, should not be viewed as a measure that child's value, personality, or anything else worth getting insulted about.  It's just a score.  It just is.  If it isn't an accurate reflection of ability, find a way to demonstrate that, but don't get insulted by the test or the test designers etc.

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I still don't understand.  Consider the question:  1/2 + 1/3.

 

One set of possible answers, with "distractors" is (Kiana's example):

 

5/6, 2/5, 1/6, and 3/2

 

another set of possible answers is

 

5/6, 0, 100, pi

 

I would say that the first one (with "distractors") is just a better test.  The second one, perhaps a student with better test taking skills could get the right answer without even doing the problem.  Are you saying that you daughter would do substantially better on the second test because of anxiety?  I would say the first test is more content driven and the second test can be gamed more easily.

 

False dilemma. The argument is not between the merits of the two MC exams but between the merits of a MC exam with distractors vs. an open-ended exam where the student has to supply the correct answer. I'd argue that the latter reflects much more the student's actual mastery of the tested topic.

 

MC exams are used because they're cheaper to grade when large numbers of students take the test. Not because they're better.

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False dilemma. The argument is not between the merits of the two MC exams but between the merits of a MC exam with distractors vs. an open-ended exam where the student has to supply the correct answer. I'd argue that the latter reflects much more the student's actual mastery of the tested topic.

 

MC exams are used because they're cheaper to grade when large numbers of students take the test. Not because they're better.

 

And I'd agree with everything you've said, but I don't get the big focus here on  "distractors".  Several posters above have complained about difficulty taking "multiple choice tests with distractors", as if multiple choice tests without them were just fine.  I guess their points would have been clearer if they had just said "multiple choice tests".  

 

And in general, I think it would be clearer if instead of saying "my dd doesn't test well", they said:

 

"dd does better on open-ended tests vs. multiple choice tests"

 

or

 

"dd does better on tests with fewer time constraints"

 

or

 

"dd does better on essay questions than MC"

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False dilemma. The argument is not between the merits of the two MC exams but between the merits of a MC exam with distractors vs. an open-ended exam where the student has to supply the correct answer. I'd argue that the latter reflects much more the student's actual mastery of the tested topic.

 

MC exams are used because they're cheaper to grade when large numbers of students take the test. Not because they're better.

MC exams also appear to be "objective" because they are not graded by a human.  In addition, MC exams generate a lot of statistics that are used to validate the exam and the questions on the exam.  Personally, I think there are a lot of problems that exist with these validation techniques, but accrediting agencies love them.  

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Before I start, I want to say that I understand that there are many paths to success in life, and most of them don't require high SAT scores.  I'm not trying to criticize anyone who chose a different path, so please don't take it that way.  In the other thread, someone posted about her dd who wanted to go to Yale but didn't have high enough scores.  I'm writing my experience in hopes it might help someone who has a younger student with low scores and big dreams.  If it doesn't apply to you, just ignore me.

 

My youngest ds is a TERRIBLE test-taker.  Absolutely terrible.  Let's just say he struggles greatly with organization and attention to detail.  I know some of that comes with being an adolescent male, but my other boys were nowhere near as bad.  I think it's pretty likely he would have been labeled with something if he was in school.  

 

It has affected him in his DE classes.  His first test in biology at the CC was a multiple choice test scored by a scantron.  He got a D.  When he went to the teacher's office hours to go over the test, he found out that most of his answers were right; he had just bubbled incorrectly. He had skipped a line, so everything was right but a line off.  That's the kind of thing we're dealing with.

 

I would have been happy to say, "It's ok -- choose a different path.  You don't need to go to a top school to be happy." BUT -- my oldest ds got into Yale and this guy, maybe ten at the time, went along with dh to the family days for accepted freshmen.  He fell in love with the place.  He hung Yale pennants on his wall and wore Yale t-shirts and rooted for them to beat Harvard (where his brother ended up...)  I told dh we should discourage this interest.  I honestly thought there was no way he could get in.  Dh said that to do that would be to say that we didn't believe in him.

 

This kid is now 18 and within reach of a 2400 on the SAT.  He's applying to Yale early action, and I think he has a decent shot.  It's still his top choice, but he has a lot of other schools he likes about as well, so he won't be crushed if he is rejected.

 

We didn't spend a dime on prep courses or anything like that. (Ok, I bought a couple of books full of practice tests and used them for six kids.  Maybe I spent $5 a kid?)  We just worked.  Steadily.  For years.  He'd do a couple of twenty-five minute sections a week, every week, year round, and we'd go over what he missed.  When it got closer to the test, we upped it to a section a day.  He got good and he got confident.

 

This work has had paid off in other areas.  He does much better on his DE tests now, and I suspect college will be easier for him because of the time I've put in teaching him to take tests.

 

Anyway, I hope that's helpful to someone!

 

 

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False dilemma. The argument is not between the merits of the two MC exams but between the merits of a MC exam with distractors vs. an open-ended exam where the student has to supply the correct answer. I'd argue that the latter reflects much more the student's actual mastery of the tested topic.

 

MC exams are used because they're cheaper to grade when large numbers of students take the test. Not because they're better.

 

 

I think the point being made was that people were saying that MC tests could just be "gamed" without knowing the material. In a MC test with very good distractors I think "gaming" the test would be nearly impossible.

 

For my College Algebra tests, for example, the other choices gave answers that could be legitimately calculated if you didn't handle an exponent correctly, or goofed on cancellation.

 

It would have been really nice if the grade was based on work shown, with partial credit for doing the rest of the quadratic equation correctly, but, really, the point is to see if you get the right answer. In real life, there's no partial credit if your simple error blows up a space shuttle.

 

I think really good MC tests can be really good, especially if the subject is straightforward "What is the Right Answer?" And really good MC tests do test real knowledge, not just test taking skills.

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Well, I will use my husband as an example.  He even says he wouldn't get into med school now.  However, in 1983 he made a 500 on math and 510 on verbal on the SAT.  He was number 3 in his class.  He went to Baylor and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.  He went to med school and graduated 4th in his class.  He does absolutely fine on tests that are over content.  But the SAT was more of a guessing kind of test in his mind.  Of course, this was way before the days when everyone did extensive test prepping. 

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It is interesting how schools differ in regard to ACT/SAT scores and GPAs.

 

At my son's public high school, for last year's graduating class of over 1,000 students, the average composite score for the ACT was 27.5. (All juniors must take the ACT plus Writing as part of our state's testing requirements.) 22 students received perfect ACT scores.

 

Perfect GPAs out of 1,000+ students? Two. In my son's class of over 1,000 students, there are also only two who have perfect GPAs so far. Average ACT scores won't be available for awhile.

 

Out of the 1400 perfect ACT scores last year your school had 22 of them? That's impressive!  Is that the most one school has ever had in a year or are there multiple schools that do this well? Congrats to your school!!

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I think the point being made was that people were saying that MC tests could just be "gamed" without knowing the material. In a MC test with very good distractors I think "gaming" the test would be nearly impossible.

 

For my College Algebra tests, for example, the other choices gave answers that could be legitimately calculated if you didn't handle an exponent correctly, or goofed on cancellation.

 

It would have been really nice if the grade was based on work shown, with partial credit for doing the rest of the quadratic equation correctly, but, really, the point is to see if you get the right answer. In real life, there's no partial credit if your simple error blows up a space shuttle.

 

I think really good MC tests can be really good, especially if the subject is straightforward "What is the Right Answer?" And really good MC tests do test real knowledge, not just test taking skills.

Unless the problem is in the transferring the answer to a bubble sheet. Then, everything just gets blown out the window. When dd has multiple choice exams in college, they have to purchase a (is its proper name a scantron?) bubble sheet to put their answers on. If you have some difficulty with spacial relations, filling in those suckers is next to impossible and mistakes will be made.

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Unless the problem is in the transferring the answer to a bubble sheet. Then, everything just gets blown out the window. When dd has multiple choice exams in college, they have to purchase a (is its proper name a scantron?) bubble sheet to put their answers on. If you have some difficulty with spacial relations, filling in those suckers is next to impossible and mistakes will be made.

 

Yeah, that really does stink.

 

But isn't that something where you ought to be able to get a disability accommodation, either for extra time or to circle the answers instead of bubbling them on the scantron? I would suspect that a disability office might easily go for the second, and honestly, hand-grading one or two MC exams is not that big a deal. It's hand-grading 500 of them that's a PITA.

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Are people only referring to standardized tests?

 

How can a student who doesn't test well, end up with good grades (ie 4.0) and above?

 

For Students I know who "don't test well", it is across the board, standardized tests and school tests and quizzes. So "doesn't test well" means the student fails, barely passes, squeaks by, etc on tests and quizzes, even with preparation.

 

And school tests and quizzes are a huge part of their grades.

 

In college, these kids struggle even worse than in high school because the grades are based on mostly tests, and compared to high school, very little homework.

 

I've been thinking over this post today, as my DH routinely comes home with horror stories of his college students and their performance - or, sadly, their lack of performance. I've also been reevaluating my own philosophy regarding higher education (in light of my own educational attainment and career choice, plus DH, plus what about the children?). 

 

To add the the repeated discussion:

- yes, overwhelmingly, people are referring to standardized tests. These tests evaluate a skill set, part of which is knowledge. These tests can be poor and invalid assessments, rewarding a certain type of thinker. 

- a student who doesn't test well can still perform well academically because their assessments come in different forms

- I'd be very curious to see the types of "school tests" that you refer to, if only to see if they are more valid assessments: essay, open-ended questions, fill-in-the-blank -- we all know the laundry list of possibilities. 

 

Every semester I taught (at a large, well-regarded public university and a smaller, *very* well regarded private university), I had several students who received accommodated testing through disability services. The typical accommodation was a time extension, but other options included being able to type, not hand write, essays, and an abbreviated test. Would testing accommodations like these help your student in question? Possibly.

 

I do think there are several paths to a BA. Personally, the bulk of my undergraduate testing was of the short-answer/essay type. I would not say that more than 50 percent of my overall undergraduate GPA came from tests. My degrees are in the social sciences, and the majority of my grades past introductory level courses tended to come from projects or papers. I did have a math minor, which, unfortunately, doesn't easily lend itself to a different assessment model. 

 

Other thoughts:

a. Is the point of a BA/BS for the students in question simply the pressure of degree inflation? If so, I sympathize. I don't think college is for every student or every type of learner, but, unfortunately, it's become required. 

b. Has the student fully investigated alternative educational programs, away from the "test and quiz" model that is such a disservice? As I mentioned, my personal experience was not heavily test-driven. Different programs, different majors, and even different instructors matter. 

 

There's an uncomfortable tension between the idea of education as a democratic opportunity and the reality of what college education entails. No, not every student needs a college education, from the point of view of academic attainment. It's foolish to think that what every 18 year old in the U.S. needs is a semester on Greek history and an English literature overview. What (almost) every 18 year old probably could benefit from is a few extra years in maturation and higher-level thinking skills development, along with a safe place to develop social and professional networks, a crash course in budgeting, and a few lessons in laundry. Just as public schools have assumed roles far outside the bounds of education (nutrition, health care, early intervention, social services), college has similarly picked up additional non-academic foci. 

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Yeah, that really does stink.

 

But isn't that something where you ought to be able to get a disability accommodation, either for extra time or to circle the answers instead of bubbling them on the scantron? I would suspect that a disability office might easily go for the second, and honestly, hand-grading one or two MC exams is not that big a deal. It's hand-grading 500 of them that's a PITA.

 

Getting accommodations is not easy. It is a long and expensive journey. This particular dc would not be given accommodations because her disabilities would most likely not show up in the testing. Even my extremely dyslexic dd did not have it show up in her latest testing despite having been dxed multiple times before. Instead, it showed her as ADHD which fortunately kept her extra time. Funny thing, her IQ suddenly fell 25 points...Not sure that is possible. Even with documentation, things go wrong. The ACT did not grant her the extra time those thousands of dollars I paid for the evaluation gave her. Seems a school counselor checked a box wrong, no time to correct her mistake.

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Other thoughts:

a. Is the point of a BA/BS for the students in question simply the pressure of degree inflation? If so, I sympathize. I don't think college is for every student or every type of learner, but, unfortunately, it's become required. 

 

Yep. I think this is the largest part of the problem. At least for me. In order to earn a livable wage, a college degree has become almost a necessity. It is ridiculous. There are actually very few fields where it should be required, instead there are very few where it isn't. 

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Other thoughts:

a. Is the point of a BA/BS for the students in question simply the pressure of degree inflation? If so, I sympathize. I don't think college is for every student or every type of learner, but, unfortunately, it's become required. 

 

Yep. I think this is the largest part of the problem. At least for me. In order to earn a livable wage, a college degree has become almost a necessity. It is ridiculous. There are actually very few fields where it should be required, instead there are very few where it isn't. 

 

 

It is probably a spin off topic, and it has been discussed before. My oldest is not in a place for additional formal academics. He graduated high school, and while at least average, possibly high end of average IQ, is not pursuing higher education at this time. I wish there were more options and encouragement for building a skilled workforce that does not include the BA/BS baseline.

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Unless the problem is in the transferring the answer to a bubble sheet. Then, everything just gets blown out the window. When dd has multiple choice exams in college, they have to purchase a (is its proper name a scantron?) bubble sheet to put their answers on. If you have some difficulty with spacial relations, filling in those suckers is next to impossible and mistakes will be made.

 

This is why accommodations exist. A student who has appropriate diagnostic evaluations done with a demonstrated need will be able to write the answers directly on the test and not have to transfer them to bubble sheet. Accommodations are available through the university disability services office. It is up to the student to have the diagnostic testing completed, make the appointment with the disability services office and to follow through. The student must be their own advocate. 

 

Accommodations are also available for students with a demonstrated need that are taking the ACT and SAT. Again, they have to have the testing done and apply for the accommodations directly with The College Board or EDS (if they are in school, their high school counselor can do this). 

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This is why accommodations exist. A student who has appropriate diagnostic evaluations done with a demonstrated need will be able to write the answers directly on the test and not have to transfer them to bubble sheet. Accommodations are available through the university disability services office. It is up to the student to have the diagnostic testing completed, make the appointment with the disability services office and to follow through. The student must be their own advocate. 

 

Accommodations are also available for students with a demonstrated need that are taking the ACT and SAT. Again, they have to have the testing done and apply for the accommodations directly with The College Board or EDS (if they are in school, their high school counselor can do this). 

 

It isn't that easy or that simple. Some kids who DO have disabilities of this type do not show as ld when tested. And, when the school counselor messes up the form, the ACT does not give the accommodation. Yeah, it happens. The world is not perfect. And, those things that only happen 0.00001% of the time tend to happen to the same people over and over again.

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Unless the problem is in the transferring the answer to a bubble sheet. Then, everything just gets blown out the window. When dd has multiple choice exams in college, they have to purchase a (is its proper name a scantron?) bubble sheet to put their answers on. If you have some difficulty with spacial relations, filling in those suckers is next to impossible and mistakes will be made.

That's my issue. It is something that a 504 can be written for and accommodations given, so in this test driven age, probably most kids will have it noticed before the high stakes test. In my case, it wasn't-my PSAT was far lower than would have been expected for me, but was considered an outlier until a teacher actually regularly gave bubble sheet tests and saw the discrepancy between multiple choice and open ended questions. But it is a very legitimate reason some kids may not test well on standardized tests, but be fine on most other tests. And it's a reason why I have had DD take paper-pencil, standardized-type tests from about 3rd grade on-because if that was an issue for her as well, I wanted to see it so I could get her to a neuropsychologist, have the testing done, and get that paper trail in place. Because I can attest that it was hard even in the 1980s to have an accommodation added while in high school, and I imagine it's worse now.

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That's my issue. It is something that a 504 can be written for and accommodations given, so in this test driven age, probably most kids will have it noticed before the high stakes test. 

 

504's and IEP's only apply to public school settings. They are not recognized by The College Board or EDS or universities. Each of them has their own special brand of hoops for students to jump through. 

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504's and IEP's only apply to public school settings. They are not recognized by The College Board or EDS or universities. Each of them has their own special brand of hoops for students to jump through. 

 

The 504s or IEPs written by public K-12 schools are not used by the testing agencies or the universities as written but they are *one* source of evidence that the student has been recognized as having a disability and has ben deemed eligible for accommodations in other environments. The testing agencies and universities do require up to date evaluations before granting accommodations. Up-to-date varies somewhat by the disability and by university policies.

 

The granting of accommodations by universities is covered under the ADA and Section 504.

 

I now encourage any parent of a child who could potentially require accommodations in a school or university setting or for high stakes testing to seek out evaluation before their child gets to high school age. It is so much easier to have those accommodations granted when there is a paper trail/established history of such a need.

 

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The 504s or IEPs written by public K-12 schools are not used by the testing agencies or the universities as written but they are *one* source of evidence that the student has been recognized as having a disability and has ben deemed eligible for accommodations in other environments. The testing agencies and universities do require up to date evaluations before granting accommodations. Up-to-date varies somewhat by the disability and by university policies.

 

The granting of accommodations by universities is covered under the ADA and Section 504.

 

I now encourage any parent of a child who could potentially require accommodations in a school or university setting or for high stakes testing to seek out evaluation before their child gets to high school age. It is so much easier to have those accommodations granted when there is a paper trail/established history of such a need.

 

 

Yes, I know all of this. 

 

It is important to realize that universities are only required to grant "reasonable accommodations" and that each institution decides what is reasonable for them. There is no uniform standard. 

 

In regards to providing a paper trail, people also need to be aware that the existence of a paper trail is not a guarantee, either. I have a paper trail going back to first grade and am fighting The College Board for SAT accommodations. It's a mess. 

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 And, when the school counselor messes up the form, the ACT does not give the accommodation. Yeah, it happens. The world is not perfect. And, those things that only happen 0.00001% of the time tend to happen to the same people over and over again.

 

Mistakes like this can be appealed with The College Board for their tests, is there a similar appeal avenue for EDS for the ACT? 

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I have a child who could be said not to test well. I tend to avoid that label because people seem to assume it means test anxiety,which isn't really an issue for him. He works slowly and reads slowly, which doesn't help, but his main problem is that he trips up on the unwritten assumptions underlying most tests or goes sideways or over thinks or gets creative. He also misreads things. Unfortunately, the solution to the problem is to teach him some basic test taking skills and then give him lots of experience taking tests. These problems don,t show up in a more interactive oral situation because the questioner can see where he is misinterpreting the question and elaborate. Timed tests and true false tests are the worst. Multiple choice and essay are both bad.

 

My two least public schooled my children have had trouble with tests that asked you to echo back something. They assumed you would need to DO something to the information before answering.

 

I think it is difficult for anyone with years of United States public school experience to understand all those underlying assumptions and test taking skills. We take them so for granted.

 

Unsinkable, I opted to work hard on class skills in general, ones like in the Robinson study skills book, rather than practicing for a specific test. We did do test prep for the sat but only enough to achieve a lowish score. I thought then and still think that study skills and speeding up reading would be a better use of his time in the long run. And we put lots of time into nonacademic education, things like travel. In case that helps...

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With computerized exams now available, I hope that admissions testing starts moving towards open-ended problems and away from MC ones.

 

Computers can not grade open ended problems.

The computerized homework programs all suffer from this; if the student types in an equivalent, correct, answer that is not in precisely the format the machine recognizes, it is marked wrong. There are some beginning attempts to create grading programs that can perform basic algebraic manipulations, but most can not.

 

 

 

The argument is not between the merits of the two MC exams but between the merits of a MC exam with distractors vs. an open-ended exam where the student has to supply the correct answer. I'd argue that the latter reflects much more the student's actual mastery of the tested topic.

 

MC exams are used because they're cheaper to grade when large numbers of students take the test. Not because they're better.

 

It is possible to create excellent multiple choice exams that test precisely the content knowledge and give a detailed picture of the student's subject mastery - for example by seeing which incorrect answers are chosen. In a well constructed exam, these should reflect typical mistakes.

The getting flustered and choosing the wrong answer despite mastery is an issue not of the test, but of the student's approach to the test. The student should work every problem as if it were open ended (if that is possible - it won't for some ways of phrasing) and then see if the answer independently obtained happens to be one of the offers.

 

There are other reasons for choosing multiple choice exams. Grading ease is one, of course - and you won't see the large standardized tests with tens of thousands of test takes ever be anything else... do you think  the essay grading is done very thoroughly on the SAT?

We give, for example, a multiple choice final exam - primarily because that eliminates end of semester haggling for points. It's either correct or it is not - no room for arguing. All other tests are open end and partial credit is given, but at some point, the student should be able to get a correct answer and not just live on partial credit for getting the problem half way correct. I would hope that my future engineers get their calculations for their bridges correct and not just started and sort of right.

 

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Yes, I know all of this. 

 

It is important to realize that universities are only required to grant "reasonable accommodations" and that each institution decides what is reasonable for them. There is no uniform standard. 

 

In regards to providing a paper trail, people also need to be aware that the existence of a paper trail is not a guarantee, either. I have a paper trail going back to first grade and am fighting The College Board for SAT accommodations. It's a mess. 

 

I figured you knew this, but I wanted to make some clarifications for those who may not.

 

As for "reasonable accommodations," the vast majority of post-secondary institutions are good about granting the usual accommodations of extra time for testing, access to texts in alternative formats, access to getting notes in alternative formats, keyboarding for essay exams, etc. Where it gets more challenging is when a student is requesting more unusual accommodations that may shift into changing the fundamental nature of the course or changing graduation requirements. In most cases, those requests are denied because they result in "modification of coursework," which is not required at the post-secondary level.

 

In the many years of experience I've spent listening to other people's stories and experiencing our own, I've found that colleges have typically been better about managing accommodations than K-12 schools have. More families who had trouble for years trying to get accommodations in K-12 schools and actually get them implemented have found it easier when their child gets to college. Of course, at that point, the student has to take the initiative and parents are not part of the process unless the student  explicitly allows it.

 

As for College Board, yes, that paper trail isn't a guarantee. We were approved on the first try by both College Board and ACT and we didn't have the paper trail until high school, except for a history of speech delay in the preschool years. However, we submitted evaluations done by 4 providers in 4 different disciplines that all converged on the same opinion regarding the need for certain typical accommodations. We also made sure that our evaluations included all of the kinds of tests that College Board requires. Our neuropsychologist is very experienced in this area so he knows the requirements well. I've known others who appear to have the need who were denied at least once, maybe more than once, but since I haven't seen the paperwork and student's history, I'm not aware of what might have kicked it out. In one student's case, ACT denied the request because, although the student had a 504 in place at school, he had refused to use his allowed accommodations and was getting good enough grades without them.

 

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Exactly!

 

 

Computers can not grade open ended problems.

The computerized homework programs all suffer from this; if the student types in an equivalent, correct, answer that is not in precisely the format the machine recognizes, it is marked wrong. There are some beginning attempts to create grading programs that can perform basic algebraic manipulations, but most can not.

 

 

 

 

It is possible to create excellent multiple choice exams that test precisely the content knowledge and give a detailed picture of the student's subject mastery - for example by seeing which incorrect answers are chosen. In a well constructed exam, these should reflect typical mistakes.

The getting flustered and choosing the wrong answer despite mastery is an issue not of the test, but of the student's approach to the test. The student should work every problem as if it were open ended (if that is possible - it won't for some ways of phrasing) and then see if the answer independently obtained happens to be one of the offers.

 

There are other reasons for choosing multiple choice exams. Grading ease is one, of course - and you won't see the large standardized tests with tens of thousands of test takes ever be anything else... do you think  the essay grading is done very thoroughly on the SAT?

We give, for example, a multiple choice final exam - primarily because that eliminates end of semester haggling for points. It's either correct or it is not - no room for arguing. All other tests are open end and partial credit is given, but at some point, the student should be able to get a correct answer and not just live on partial credit for getting the problem half way correct. I would hope that my future engineers get their calculations for their bridges correct and not just started and sort of right.

 

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In the many years of experience I've spent listening to other people's stories and experiencing our own, I've found that colleges have typically been better about managing accommodations than K-12 schools have. More families who had trouble for years trying to get accommodations in K-12 schools and actually get them implemented have found it easier when their child gets to college. Of course, at that point, the student has to take the initiative and parents are not part of the process unless the student  explicitly allows it.

 

 

 

I do not have many years of experience with college accommodations. I am not in a position where I hear a lot of other people's stories. I only have experience with my two girls and three colleges. College one is nasty and snotty about them. They (lady in charge of disability office) belittle the dear student who is needing/requesting them. It is made quite clear that they will probably not be granted. In the end, they are and the teachers are extremely understanding and follow the rules to perfection. College two is super nice and promises all accommodations will be met. Paperwork is all filed. Lip service is given. No accommodations are followed through. (Granted, dear student probably needed to push harder. But, honestly, she shouldn't have needed to.) Yes, we could have sued the school. We just didn't want to go down that path. College three: just plain old didn't know what they were doing. (This is a disability due to a physical medical condition that came on fairly suddenly.) Told to fill out wrong paper work. Told to send in wrong forms. Lost proper forms when sent in. Multiple. Times. Dd did finally receive the accommodations, but between the wait to get into see a specialist and the school's bungling, it took an entire semester. This was a medical need that should have been granted immediately. (Fortunately, the need was so obvious that most (notice the MOST) of her teachers were understanding and gave accommodations anyway.)

 

So, my experience is not quite the same as yours. True, I have limited experiences, but the schools are at a rating of about 1/5 stars with accommodations if you ask me. The best school had me holding back from throwing punches with the way dd was treated, and it was the best one by far. 

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There are other reasons for choosing multiple choice exams. Grading ease is one, of course - and you won't see the large standardized tests with tens of thousands of test takes ever be anything else... do you think  the essay grading is done very thoroughly on the SAT?

 

 

We've disagreed on multi-choice in the past, so I won't go into that.  I just wanted to mention that the UK has national, essay/short answer based exams for hundreds of thousands of people each year.  I know how they are graded - not only because I taught Calvin three of them, but also because I aided a friend with marking (she did the marking - I checked her maths).  The rubric is tight and, I think, the results pretty good.  There is an appeals procedure, and many appeals are upheld, but that - to me - just shows a reasonably good system at work.

 

According to this article, it's around a million people per year who take GCSEs; most will take 5 to 12 separate subjects, with each subject having two or more exam papers.  The exams are mostly graded by teachers during their summer holidays - they are usually very familiar with the syllabus and are just making extra money by taking on marking duties.

 

L

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We've disagreed on multi-choice in the past, so I won't go into that.  I just wanted to mention that the UK has national, essay/short answer based exams for hundreds of thousands of people each year.  I know how they are graded - not only because I taught Calvin three of them, but also because I aided a friend with marking (she did the marking - I checked her maths).  The rubric is tight and, I think, the results pretty good.  There is an appeals procedure, and many appeals are upheld, but that - to me - just shows a reasonably good system at work.

 

According to this article, it's around a million people per year who take GCSEs; most will take 5 to 12 separate subjects, with each subject having two or more exam papers.  The exams are mostly graded by teachers during their summer holidays - they are usually very familiar with the syllabus and are just making extra money by taking on marking duties.

 

L

 

Thanks for sharing. So what is the turn-around time for these? I can see this work for an end-of-the year exam where teachers can grade over the summer, and the AP exams in the US are open ended as well. But I have a hard time seeing how that would work for exams that need to be offered multiple times during the year, and taken several times by students. (I already find it ridiculous that SAT results take so many weeks). It would require a complete shift in the testing landscape and create a great loss of flexibility for the students if all tests were only offered once a year in the spring as it is the case with AP.

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Thanks for sharing. So what is the turn-around time for these? I can see this work for an end-of-the year exam where teachers can grade over the summer, and the AP exams in the US are open ended as well. But I have a hard time seeing how that would work for exams that need to be offered multiple times during the year, and taken several times by students. (I already find it ridiculous that SAT results take so many weeks). It would require a complete shift in the testing landscape and create a great loss of flexibility for the students if all tests were only offered once a year in the spring as it is the case with AP.

 

GCSEs are offered twice in the year, as a rule - November and June - so teachers are paid to mark them over Christmas or at the beginning of the summer holidays.  Results days this year were 9th January and 21st August, so around seven weeks from the end of the exam period.

 

A levels, on which university entrance is based, are marked faster - 14th August was the summer date this year, so around six weeks.

 

L

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I'll 'fess up:  I have one who "doesn't test well" because of deficiencies in her knowledge of the subject.  How's that?   :tongue_smilie: Her low test scores often accurately reflect (or even slightly overstate) her understanding of a subject.  She is an average student.  There is no shame in that--she's awesome, and there is nothing I would change about her.  But when she took the PSAT for practice a couple of weeks ago, my husband I discussed how we hope she just makes it into the triple digits on her score.  She will be going to a college that has disparagingly been described as a "school that takes everyone," and she'll do fine there.  She would be an awesome physical therapist, but realistically, I don't know that she would ever get into PT school, so maybe she will be a PT assistant, an athletic trainer, teacher or swim coach.  Could she get a Ph.D. in physics?  Almost certainly not, but she is perfectly capable of achieving her dream or of making a different dream.

 

I do not mean to imply that every kid who doesn't test well is like her, but I thought it might be refreshing to hear that not everyone whose  kid will have low scores actually discounts the validity of the test or the American path to higher education.  

 

On a less personal note, keep in mind that giving grades more weight than standardized test scores can actually discriminate against home schoolers or students from small or far-away high schools.  The college admissions committee has no point of reference for evaluating grades from a school, including your home school, whose graduates have never attended their college.

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Out of the 1400 perfect ACT scores last year your school had 22 of them? That's impressive!  Is that the most one school has ever had in a year or are there multiple schools that do this well? Congrats to your school!!

 

Yes, they had 22. I don't know if it's the most for one school, but considering it's a public school that has to take any kid from the area, they do well. I attribute it to the school properly placing students in appropriate levels, having good teachers and offering free tutoring before, during and after school.

 

The average composite score of 27.5, which they come close to making every year, is pretty good, too.

 

What I especially like about the counseling at this school is that it is not *college* counseling. It's not called that. They want to help all students whatever their path may be. A student who has no desire to continue studying, who would prefer to jump into a trade, the military or take a gap year, can find just as much helpful advice as a student who wants to attend college. They also know which schools are good for students with learning disabilities. Really, something for everyone.

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I do not have many years of experience with college accommodations. I am not in a position where I hear a lot of other people's stories. I only have experience with my two girls and three colleges. College one is nasty and snotty about them. They (lady in charge of disability office) belittle the dear student who is needing/requesting them. It is made quite clear that they will probably not be granted. In the end, they are and the teachers are extremely understanding and follow the rules to perfection. College two is super nice and promises all accommodations will be met. Paperwork is all filed. Lip service is given. No accommodations are followed through. (Granted, dear student probably needed to push harder. But, honestly, she shouldn't have needed to.) Yes, we could have sued the school. We just didn't want to go down that path. College three: just plain old didn't know what they were doing. (This is a disability due to a physical medical condition that came on fairly suddenly.) Told to fill out wrong paper work. Told to send in wrong forms. Lost proper forms when sent in. Multiple. Times. Dd did finally receive the accommodations, but between the wait to get into see a specialist and the school's bungling, it took an entire semester. This was a medical need that should have been granted immediately. (Fortunately, the need was so obvious that most (notice the MOST) of her teachers were understanding and gave accommodations anyway.)

 

So, my experience is not quite the same as yours. True, I have limited experiences, but the schools are at a rating of about 1/5 stars with accommodations if you ask me. The best school had me holding back from throwing punches with the way dd was treated, and it was the best one by far. 

 

I'm sorry your daughters have had such a difficult time. And thanks for sharing. These are important additions to my data set. I think over the 10 years that I've been reading posts in a variety of places and talking to people locally, I've only heard of one other person who has had such a difficult experience at the college level. K-12, yes, many difficulties. College, much less so. One other student, a mature adult student  in a master's degree program, had a professor try to refuse to allow him to record lectures, but the student was able to resolve it amicably by educating the professor on his disability and disability law. 

 

The more typical difficulty occurs when the student is in denial about the need and refuses to use the accommodations that have been approved or is too fearful of approaching the professor to hand him a letter of accommodation and start the conversation about the details of using the accommodation.

 

For others coming down the road whose high school students have documented disabilities, it is a good idea to interview the director of disability services on a college visit, whether at the first visit or a return visit, but prior to making a commitment to attend. I found this helpful. My current college student is at a university where accommodations are not just grudgingly allowed, but where students are supported in using them. The other recommendation is to make sure your high school student is learning about how he/she learns best, how his/her documented disability affects performance, and how to advocate for his/her needs. The student who arrives on campus with good self awareness and good communication skills is in the best position to make use of the supports available.

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I'm sorry your daughters have had such a difficult time. And thanks for sharing. These are important additions to my data set. I think over the 10 years that I've been reading posts in a variety of places and talking to people locally, I've only heard of one other person who has had such a difficult experience at the college level. K-12, yes, many difficulties. College, much less so. One other student, a mature adult student  in a master's degree program, had a professor try to refuse to allow him to record lectures, but the student was able to resolve it amicably by educating the professor on his disability and disability law. 

 

The more typical difficulty occurs when the student is in denial about the need and refuses to use the accommodations that have been approved or is too fearful of approaching the professor to hand him a letter of accommodation and start the conversation about the details of using the accommodation.

 

For others coming down the road whose high school students have documented disabilities, it is a good idea to interview the director of disability services on a college visit, whether at the first visit or a return visit, but prior to making a commitment to attend. I found this helpful. My current college student is at a university where accommodations are not just grudgingly allowed, but where students are supported in using them. The other recommendation is to make sure your high school student is learning about how he/she learns best, how his/her documented disability affects performance, and how to advocate for his/her needs. The student who arrives on campus with good self awareness and good communication skills is in the best position to make use of the supports available.

 

Yes.

 

I do not discount that there are universities which do not do this, but none I have ever been at has done so. 

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I'm sorry your daughters have had such a difficult time. And thanks for sharing. These are important additions to my data set. I think over the 10 years that I've been reading posts in a variety of places and talking to people locally, I've only heard of one other person who has had such a difficult experience at the college level. K-12, yes, many difficulties. College, much less so. One other student, a mature adult student  in a master's degree program, had a professor try to refuse to allow him to record lectures, but the student was able to resolve it amicably by educating the professor on his disability and disability law. 

 

The more typical difficulty occurs when the student is in denial about the need and refuses to use the accommodations that have been approved or is too fearful of approaching the professor to hand him a letter of accommodation and start the conversation about the details of using the accommodation.

 

For others coming down the road whose high school students have documented disabilities, it is a good idea to interview the director of disability services on a college visit, whether at the first visit or a return visit, but prior to making a commitment to attend. I found this helpful. My current college student is at a university where accommodations are not just grudgingly allowed, but where students are supported in using them. The other recommendation is to make sure your high school student is learning about how he/she learns best, how his/her documented disability affects performance, and how to advocate for his/her needs. The student who arrives on campus with good self awareness and good communication skills is in the best position to make use of the supports available.

 

Good to know we did everything right. We did all the above. The school that made the best lip service gave the least support. I have had several people push for us to sue them for not accommodating. On paper and in person, they promised the moon. They were extremely friendly. The school that fought the physical disability, well not fought just not very helpful/nice, well, you kind of have no clue when something like that is going to come up and do not think to inquire..."So, if I lose the use of my arm, how quickly can accommodations be put in place for assistance? Oh, six months...that seems a bit excessive. Anything we can do to speed that process up?" The other school was a fallback/no choice attendance. At least they did come through in the end. After telling my dd she was just a person who was stupid who shouldn't be receiving any accommodations...that she needed to grow up and handle her problems without any assistance because the world won't give you any...yes, the director of the resources department actually said that.

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Good to know we did everything right. We did all the above. The school that made the best lip service gave the least support. I have had several people push for us to sue them for not accommodating. On paper and in person, they promised the moon. They were extremely friendly. The school that fought the physical disability, well not fought just not very helpful/nice, well, you kind of have no clue when something like that is going to come up and do not think to inquire..."So, if I lose the use of my arm, how quickly can accommodations be put in place for assistance? Oh, six months...that seems a bit excessive. Anything we can do to speed that process up?" The other school was a fallback/no choice attendance. At least they did come through in the end. After telling my dd she was just a person who was stupid who shouldn't be receiving any accommodations...that she needed to grow up and handle her problems without any assistance because the world won't give you any...yes, the director of the resources department actually said that.

 

Every now and then you get a bum deal and it stinks.

 

I would review this college after your DD graduates and make sure that anyone else who has kids who need accommodations know of what she went through. 

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I am sure you don't mean it this way, but the bold is very insulting to those who suffer with the brain disease of anxiety. Anxiety is not reasonable or logical. And often has **nothing** to do with the quality of preparation.

 

"Being confident in one's answer" is not going to heal the anxious brain.

 

 

You keep equating "real world" scenarios with the intentional distractors in standardized tests. It's not comparable.

 

If you don't see how your statements might be insulting to those who suffer with anxiety, I don't know how to make that more clear to you.

 

The examinations CAN BE a measure of performance, but depending on the student and test, that is not always the case.

 

Joanne, I do wish you would have another go at explaining it, because I also don't see how that example was insulting to those with anxiety.

 

I didn't interpret her post as thinking that "being confident in one's answer" was going to heal the anxious brain, but rather that the ability to be confident in one's answer can be one part of the puzzle that predicts future success. 

 

And I think that there are plenty of real world scenarios that, to a large degree, do equate to the time constraints and distractors on a standardized test. 

 

In my husband's work, for example, there's lots of math done very quickly, under extreme pressure. Because there are multiple variables in the formulas, and they vary from customer to customer, it is quite easy to get a wrong answer that 'looks' right. Those answers can cost the company a lot of money. 

 

You have to know the math AND be able to perform it quickly, with lots of distractions and lots of pressure. Lots of super smart people don't do well in that situation, yet it's very much a real world scenario. And yep, they use a high stakes, timed, standardized test as part of hiring (a big part - almost nothing will compensate for a low score on the test). 

 

There are definitely multiple paths to success, and I'm not at all trying to argue that the emphasis placed on standardized testing is ideal in any way, but I honestly do not get why her response was insulting to people with anxiety.  

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