Thursday, January 31, 2013

How many tests are too many?

How many tests are too many?

How many tests did you take through your school years?

How many chapter tests did you take in your 9th grade math class? How many quizzes? How many spelling tests in second grade? How many pop quizzes in 10th grade science? How long were your midterm and final exams?

I don't know how many class periods I spent just taking a test in high school. I don't know how many times I spent part of the period taking a test. I don't remember how many of the classes had midterms, and how many had formal sit down final exams. I think I know how many AP exams I took, a half day each. I took the SATs twice, a full day each time (I think). I took the PSATs, and I think that was much shorter than the SATs.  My state had POS and SRA tests, mostly before high school. I think the POS tests were annual, but I don't remember how long it took to take them. I think the SRAs were every few years, but I do not remember how often or how long they were. And there were the Achievement tests, too. There were three of those, and they took one hour each.

I am sure that I had to take the "Minimum Competency Test" in 11th grade, and that although my friends and I literally raced through that to see who could finish first, we did not return to our regular classes when we finished. And I do not remember how long was allocated to that test.

If I had grown up in New York, I might have had fewer final exams, but I would probably remember how many Regents exams I took, at a half day, each.

I don't know how much time I spent taking tests, exams and quizzes in school, not even in high school. Was it two full weeks? Was it four weeks? More?

I do remember some tests that I thought were unfair, even ones that I did well on. I remember some teachers loved trick questions. I remember one final exam for math class that everyone thought covered what the class covered, and even people who did poorly on it thought it was a fair test. I also remember a final exam for a math class that had nothing to do with what we covered in class, and no one thought that was fair. I still remember a particular question I got wrong on a standardized test because my AP Chemistry teacher did not think that that one thing was important enough to teach us -- it was about permanganate ions, MnO4-. But other than that, I do not think I ever had a good idea of how well what my teachers taught me matched what they were supposed to teach me.

I don't know the right amount of school time for students to spend taking tests, exams and quizzes. Though I know the strengths and weaknesses of teacher-made assessments, of high quality standardized tests and of low quality standardized tests, I do not know the right ratios of teacher-made tests, locally made tests and commercially created standardized tests.

Do you?

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