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An idea I had to improve standardized testing.

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posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:07 PM
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Off and on here over the years I've made various posts talking about our school system and ways we could improve it. Each suggestion has inevitably resulted in suggestions to include more classes and the criticism that has come up time and again is that some people just aren't built to sit in a classroom for years on end. So I got to thinking, all too often we base standardized tests on a national curriculum that's largely one size fits all, with an elective here and there.

What if we revamped the entire testing process to evaluate students? What if each students test weren't an identical SAT, ACT, or their state mandated graduation test? What if we built these tests as modules based on each students unique background? This would allow us to identify students who have less interest in higher education and divert classes that would ordinarily be used on college prep classes to life skills classes. Does someone who wants to work on cars, or be a rifleman, or an athlete, or a writer really need that extra semester of algebra? I think a class on personal finance, or negotiation, or healthy budget conscious cooking, or other useful skills that are more often taught in college would do these people wonders.

We currently can't do this though because testing sets a baseline in each skill that students need to have, and those baselines lean towards college prep more than anything else.

These days however, every student is tracked from first through twelfth grade in federal and state databases. Every class they've ever taken, or simply have taken in the past year is available through a database query. As a result, we have the technology now to give every single student a placement test based on their unique class selection with modules that go over precisely what their classes covered.

The benefit of this, is that schools would no longer have to teach to the test. Individual classes would still need to cover the required material, but it would no longer be cookie cutter education for each student. We could rate subjects on a point scale, and as long as the subjects and their resulting test passed a certain score, we could give that test to a student and consider it valid.

This wouldn't disrupt college entrance exams because they could simply require a score of X in a subject for admissions.

This system would even allow students on different graduation tracks to learn the same material in different years, simply by adjusting when they get a certain test module.

What do people think? Would this be a worthwhile improvement to the school system?




posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:14 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

I agree. There needs to be a baseline though. Part of the problem is that society has determined that if you don't go to college, then you aren't as worthy. There is a lack of respect for blue collar / vocational skills.

I think our entire school system needs an overhaul k - 12.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:15 PM
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originally posted by: Aazadan
Off and on here over the years I've made various posts talking about our school system and ways we could improve it. Each suggestion has inevitably resulted in suggestions to include more classes and the criticism that has come up time and again is that some people just aren't built to sit in a classroom for years on end. So I got to thinking, all too often we base standardized tests on a national curriculum that's largely one size fits all, with an elective here and there.

What if we revamped the entire testing process to evaluate students? What if each students test weren't an identical SAT, ACT, or their state mandated graduation test? What if we built these tests as modules based on each students unique background? This would allow us to identify students who have less interest in higher education and divert classes that would ordinarily be used on college prep classes to life skills classes. Does someone who wants to work on cars, or be a rifleman, or an athlete, or a writer really need that extra semester of algebra? I think a class on personal finance, or negotiation, or healthy budget conscious cooking, or other useful skills that are more often taught in college would do these people wonders.

We currently can't do this though because testing sets a baseline in each skill that students need to have, and those baselines lean towards college prep more than anything else.

These days however, every student is tracked from first through twelfth grade in federal and state databases. Every class they've ever taken, or simply have taken in the past year is available through a database query. As a result, we have the technology now to give every single student a placement test based on their unique class selection with modules that go over precisely what their classes covered.

The benefit of this, is that schools would no longer have to teach to the test. Individual classes would still need to cover the required material, but it would no longer be cookie cutter education for each student. We could rate subjects on a point scale, and as long as the subjects and their resulting test passed a certain score, we could give that test to a student and consider it valid.

This wouldn't disrupt college entrance exams because they could simply require a score of X in a subject for admissions.

This system would even allow students on different graduation tracks to learn the same material in different years, simply by adjusting when they get a certain test module.

What do people think? Would this be a worthwhile improvement to the school system?


The ASVAB test already does this. It helps determine both aptitude and career placement.

It has worked for decades, and it is free to the school districts... public and private.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:22 PM
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originally posted by: madmac5150
The ASVAB test already does this. It helps determine both aptitude and career placement.


That's only for military placement though, and it's still the same standardized test. It's not tailored to each students background.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:24 PM
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The real world doesn't adjust to suit the individual so when the school system does, it creates an unrealistic set of circumstances.
This could be a factor why millennials are having trouble fitting into jobs today.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:29 PM
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originally posted by: Edumakated
a reply to: Aazadan

I agree. There needs to be a baseline though. Part of the problem is that society has determined that if you don't go to college, then you aren't as worthy. There is a lack of respect for blue collar / vocational skills.

I think our entire school system needs an overhaul k - 12.


Does there need to be a baseline? What I was thinking is that the system could work something like this:

1 module added for each class taken that year in the subject.
Math, Science, Arts, Language - 4 points per
Life skills, electives, job training - 3 points per
Misc - 2 points per

As long as a students test added up to say 26+ points for that year they could use the test. This means that someone more mathematically inclined could have a test tailored to a math background, while someone who took a bunch of classes teaching them trades could also have a valid test.

Either one would certify that the student has a background for their adult life but it doesn't necessitate for example that both students are masters of geometry, or algebra, or welding. And it doesn't punish either for not knowing something. It only punishes them for not learning what they committed to learning.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:33 PM
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originally posted by: Bluntone22
The real world doesn't adjust to suit the individual so when the school system does, it creates an unrealistic set of circumstances.
This could be a factor why millennials are having trouble fitting into jobs today.


Sure it does. I'm an average programmer. I'm a below average cook. I can sell my programming services to buy better cooked food.

In the real world you can either be a specialist who does one thing, and leverages income from that to get by. Or you can be a generalist who can do a little bit of everything such as a general handyman and get by.

Specialization tends to pay better, but that means an education that not everyone wants to do.

I think that grade school is currently failing anyone who doesn't plan to go to college, and that's the problem I'm aiming to create a solution for here. With a better testing system, the school could still be evaluated (as could classes and teachers) while also allowing for more diverse student graduation tracks to meet everyones needs rather than just a specific group.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:35 PM
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originally posted by: Aazadan

originally posted by: madmac5150
The ASVAB test already does this. It helps determine both aptitude and career placement.


That's only for military placement though, and it's still the same standardized test. It's not tailored to each students background.


You are wrong on both counts. The ASVAB is not just for military placement. (I do speak from experience here... I did a tour as an Air Force recruiter.) Schools can request to administer the ASVAB with every student's personal data masked. A recruiter can see the student's name and scores, but would have to go through the school's guidance counselor to contact the student. Other schools (mostly public) will let the recruiters contact the students straightaway... in any case, the ASVAB can provide fantastic insight into the interests, and aptitude of each student that takes the test. This was 20 years ago, but not much has changed to my understanding.

It is tailored to each student, as the test works well at determining a student's strengths and weaknesses.

Each branch of the military breaks out the scores differently. Learning what those numbers actually mean can be invaluable.

For instance... the first numbers in the US Army score system accurately reflect an IQ score.

Now, I am not saying that it is a perfect measure of intelligence and aptitude, but it does work. Decades of research confirm this.

Why reinvent the wheel?
edit on 4-8-2017 by madmac5150 because: My ducks made me do it



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:36 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

The thing is you still need a baseline. I guess what is the minimum acceptable general knowledge? Reading, writing, basic algebra, and basic history. After that, you should be free to study whatever you want.

I've never been a huge fan of standardized testing. I've always been in talented and gifted programs, but never did well on standardized tests. I took the GMAT for graduate business school and did horribly on it. However, I still graduated at the top of my class. My wife took the GRE for graduate school and believe she was #3 in her class.

It is an interesting problem. I think our school system is too rigid and testing is a symptom of trying to put people into a box. However, I understand why we need to have tests. I just don't know that anyone has come up with a really good test.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:40 PM
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a reply to: madmac5150

Because a student who has a poor math background will fail that portion. The typical standardized test has say 10 math questions. 2 on Algebra 1, 2 on Geometry, etc... A student who has finished Geometry but nothing else will score a 2/10 if they can complete the questions. Same with Algebra 1. We don't distinguish between them, we simply note that the student has either a 0/10, 2/10, or 4/10 in this case.

By breaking a test apart, the student who took one math class can now score a 2/2 and accurately reflect that they know the part they need to know. If the rest is irrelevant to their career path, then why even include it?

This would allow for subjects that aren't on a college prep path to still help the school, teacher, and student evaluate if they're ready to leave (and if the school did their job correctly) without pushing the college path above all else.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:46 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

To be honest with you I don't expect the school do much in the way of preparing my daughter for the future. Parents need to teach their kids life skills. Schools can't do that with any great effect.

Schools can be better though. They used to put kids in lanes based on their aptitude. Kids were separated to suit their skills. I was always in the math and science fast lane but with English and literature I was the guy doing 40 on the highway with his turn signal on.
They have gotten away from that philosophy and switched to no child left behind.
All this did was make it so no kid can get ahead.

In other words, politically correct has replaced correct.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 09:46 PM
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originally posted by: Aazadan
a reply to: madmac5150

Because a student who has a poor math background will fail that portion. The typical standardized test has say 10 math questions. 2 on Algebra 1, 2 on Geometry, etc... A student who has finished Geometry but nothing else will score a 2/10 if they can complete the questions. Same with Algebra 1. We don't distinguish between them, we simply note that the student has either a 0/10, 2/10, or 4/10 in this case.

By breaking a test apart, the student who took one math class can now score a 2/2 and accurately reflect that they know the part they need to know. If the rest is irrelevant to their career path, then why even include it?

This would allow for subjects that aren't on a college prep path to still help the school, teacher, and student evaluate if they're ready to leave (and if the school did their job correctly) without pushing the college path above all else.


I had a poor math background when I took the ASVAB test 26 years ago. I must have made up for it on other parts of the test. I still scored an overall 97 by Air Force math.

My ex wife was a 99 by Air Force math, and long division was not in her bag of tricks. She sucked at math, but excelled elsewhere.

I am not advocating the ASVAB as a replacement to SAT/ACT, but I think it would be a good place to start...
edit on 4-8-2017 by madmac5150 because: My goats aren't much nicer



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 10:01 PM
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originally posted by: Edumakated
The thing is you still need a baseline. I guess what is the minimum acceptable general knowledge? Reading, writing, basic algebra, and basic history. After that, you should be free to study whatever you want.


I think you could get away with no minimum on any of them. The test itself would still have a minimum, so as long as the student took enough classes (and this is still going to be limited by the schools offerings) and learned the material, then does it really matter? It's not like we're talking about handing out advanced degrees here, we're talking about high school diplomas which aren't typically even a requirement for low skill jobs.

What a different testing system really comes down to, is that it gives the government a better quantative system to measure school performance, and that means more options become open to students. All we really need to measure is if the student is learning what they committed to learning by taking the class because that tells us the school is effective and consistently putting out students who know something. In contrast our current system puts everyone up against the same test in the name of fairness (and it's anything but fair), and then marks down schools because a student didn't learn the right thing.

Lets instead let students learn something. 50% of students don't go to college, 2/3 of students don't graduate college. Lets make sure those people learn something, rather than funneling them all into a college prep system that only a few are even going to complete.



I've never been a huge fan of standardized testing. I've always been in talented and gifted programs, but never did well on standardized tests.


G&T here too. I did good on the tests though. Every standardized test I took in my entire life I scored 99th percentile or better on. GPA is where I've always suffered. I'm bad at getting homework done and that dragged me down. I was in the top 5 in my high school in testing results, but graduated second to last in my class. But, this was a really good private high school, 2nd to last in the class still meant I was an A student.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 10:09 PM
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originally posted by: Bluntone22
To be honest with you I don't expect the school do much in the way of preparing my daughter for the future. Parents need to teach their kids life skills. Schools can't do that with any great effect.


Parents aren't necessarily capable of teaching skills though. There's some things parents can teach, but the kid is still going to be limited by their parents potential. I think we need a teaching system that has three points of failure. The school, mom, and dad. If you're getting information from multiple sources, then the chances of some good information coming through are increased.

For example, a class that I strongly believe everyone should have in their lives (the younger, the better) is a class on negotiation. There is simply so much value involved for the time spent on this subject that it should be a very high priority. Think about this, your salary negotiation is the single highest value amount of time you will ever spend on something in your life. A good negotion is worth several thousand dollars more per year in most jobs (every additional dollar/hour you get is worth roughly $2000 per year). Therefore, a worker base that is more skilled in negotiation will result in better working conditions and eliminate the need for wage and hour regulations without either unions or the government having to step in. It also creates more fair deals when making large purchases.

Many parents are incapable of teaching proper negotiation though because they don't know it themselves. Another real world example is common core math. It is far and away the best way to teach math, but many are opposed because the teachers don't understand it and neither do the parents. The quality of the teaching is limiting the potential of the student.

We can't rely only on parents.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 10:16 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

You lost my interest when you lauded "common core" math.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 10:20 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

Then it's not standardized lol...

Standardized should mean your testing on the things that are NOT SUBJECTIVE..

Things that have a correct or incorrect answer..


Imho the real problem is WHAT we are teaching..



We all know in real life you use MAYBE 10% of what you learned after 5th grade...


Well what if instead EVERY kid who graduated highschool knew how to change their tires, oil and do random BS mateinence..

A little electrical work.. a little heating and cooling..

EVERYTHING that everyone will one day be required to do..


Have upper level maths be electives and have auto shop be a requirment



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 10:22 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan


I'm not saying that schools have no value. They do many things parents would not be capable of doing.

But you can't deny that parents that are successful tend to have successful kids.
Kids raised by hill jack parents end up just like their parents most of the time.
Schools need to have some raw materials to work with.
No matter how good the school system, they can't teach broken children.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 10:31 PM
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originally posted by: JoshuaCox
Standardized should mean your testing on the things that are NOT SUBJECTIVE..

Things that have a correct or incorrect answer..


The current system is that everyone gets the same test. This has an issue though, a student that has been exposed heavily to a subject and is just bad at it (such as math) will score poorly on that section, while a student who has had poor exposure but good results with what they have done will also score poorly. This creates a situation where the only path to success is broad exposure to a subject and knowing that material. It overly biases the schools towards the specific subjects a test will be on.

Instead, if you break tests up into modules for each class, and then make each students standardized test comprised only of the modules they've been exposed to, the school will get better metrics. With better metrics comes the ability to diversify classes taught and meet more students needs.



We all know in real life you use MAYBE 10% of what you learned after 5th grade...


It depends on your profession.



Well what if instead EVERY kid who graduated highschool knew how to change their tires, oil and do random BS mateinence..

A little electrical work.. a little heating and cooling..


I only have so many hours in the day to learn things. Furthermore, I only have so many hours in the day to do things. We all have these limitations. Every hour I'm spending messing with something like car maintenance, or electrical work, or cooking, is an hour I'm not spending on the things I'm actually good at that I can contribute to society.

Let me do what I'm good at, practiced, studied for, and what I want to do. You can do the same. Money lets us exchange services. Everybody wins.

An HVAC guy doesn't need to know world history. We shouldn't make him learn it when there's more relevant classes he could be taking.

One advantage I see in this system, is that because it would let students take more of what interests them, it might actually make them more interested in learning down the road. School is a pretty poor experience for many, because they have no interest in the material.



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