Monday, April 8, 2013

Standardized Madness

A friend of mine in Florida wanted to become a real estate agent. He followed all the directions from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations. This included taking a 60 hour course in real estate law, practices and procedures. He had his fingerprints cleared and approved and all he needed to do to be certified was take a state exam. The state exam was created by the Pearsonvue corporation under the approval of the Florida legislature. After taking the test, and failing miserably, he was undaunted, studied harder, and tried again.  In fact, after 5 attempts at taking the test, he has decided that the exam has defeated him, and he will not become a realtor, after all. 
After speaking with him in depth, he described the fact that he knew the material, inside and out. He practically memorized, verbatim, the Florida real estate laws, and still, he was unable to pass test. Probing further, I asked what the test was like. His description was of a standardized, norm referenced examination of a multiple choice variety. He felt the answer choices for each question were like different shades of white. The clear choice for the answer was not even close to what the presumed correct answer was. Thus the problem of standardized testing, that one size does not fit all, and the only people benefiting from the exam are the test makers, themselves.
I have never been a big fan of this type of testing. It forces people to think within a box of information only, and not out of the box. It negates the hands-on practical application of experiential learning in favor of one possible answer only to a question. The anxiety and frustration experienced by my friend was evident, but he was in his 60’s. Can you imagine the torment and pain an 8 or 9 year old deals with?
It is great to hear that some schools are attempting to stand up to the test makers, and the government groups demanding this kind of accountability. Actions across the country are showing this movement getting stronger. Children should not be placed in this type of educational experience for any reason, whatsoever.
“Are standardized tests capable of measuring anything more than how well one is able to pass that particular standardized test? Might it not make more sense to test the student using the same medium in which the student will be required to perform? After all, the test required for one to obtain their driver’s license is a test where they get in a car and actually drive. The United States Air Force has flight simulators at its disposal which provide a sufficient likeness to actually flying a plane to train the pilots-to-be.” 
Edcuation discussion: The history and evolution of standardized testing. (n.d.). Retrieved from