by David Safier
Here's a great idea: a bill in Michigan that would make everyone in the state lege take an elementary level standardized test. Oh, and the results would be posted online.
I would love to see that happen in Arizona with the soon-to-arrive Common Core-based exams. I've looked over some of the sample test questions for 6th and 7th graders in math and English. They're not only tough. They're confusing, expecting the test taker to go through a two or three step mathematical or conceptual process to arrive at an answer than agrees with one of the multiple choices. The reading passages, by the way, are long, reasonably complex and very boring. Even kids who have the skills to arrive at the correct answers could become so stressed out by the complexity of the tasks, their brains would freeze. Unless, of course, they were given practice test after practice test after practice test, which both invalidates the results and robs students of valuable class time.
The AZ lege would never vote for such a thing. I say, put out a challenge and make it voluntary. Let business people, politicians and other citizens volunteer to take the tests. I'd sign up right away. Being an English teacher gives me an advantage in that area, but I haven't taken a math class since 1964.
Test takers would swear not to reveal any of the test questions, but they could talk about the experience of taking the test. Hell, I'd even let them opt out of making their scores public if they wanted. People need to know what we're putting our students through. They need to understand that test prep is as important or more important than students' knowledge and ability when it comes to scoring high on the tests. If more people took the tests, more people would wonder about whether we're overdoing this whole testing thing.