Friday, May 1, 2015

I Just Need to Take English and Math Placement tests? Really?

Why? Why ? Why are so many educational institutions living in the past? 

When reviewing some research for an article I'm writing, I was a little taken back. The article, on self-regulated learning (if you must know), gave a brief overview of ideas about learning that influenced Western education. Among these, Thurstone (1938),  provided what was thought to be a perfect description of the abilities of students (Primary Mental Abilities Test).

While these ideas contributed significantly at the time, and have relevance today, we've learned a few more things since.

In spite of these new understandings, these testing practices persist today. The idea is that the right test can classify and place students in just the right level for optimal instruction, for example the right math groups, or the right English class. This placement practice consistently yields poor results overall, yet this practice is still widely used as a primary placement tool today from preschool to college.

While I am not arguing to throw out testing, tests do provide some good information, what I do know, more than this.... What we know from research today, is that self-regulation has far more to do with successful academic outcomes than performance on a placement test. Testing along is not enough.

We need more than the right tests for correct placement.

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