What is important when testing students?

The following is a quote from Steffy and English (1997, p. 6) cited in Ramirez (1999, p. 206) about schools from a standardised test in the USA.

Eighty-nine percent of the variance of the scores was explained by four variables: the number of parents living in the home, the parents’ education, community type, and state poverty rate…Test reflect wealthy disparity…as opposed to the actual taught school curriculum. On unaligned tests, no school-related variable predicts statistically significant scores.

Recent experience within schools suggests to me that this problem isn’t just with standardised testing, but also plays a significant influence on a student’s general school experience and chances of success.

I’m guessing this perception also explains a large part of my current frustration with my experience with prac teaching. I’m teaching a Grade 10 mathematics class. I’ll be with them for 3 days a week for the next 6 weeks (during which time I have to complete University assignments), and then another 6 weeks full-time (ending 2 or 3 weeks before they leave school for the year). I’m finding it frustrating that I don’t think, given my relative inexperience with these kids and the context, that there’s much I can do to overcome some of these problems. Especially when I’m battling a set of student mindsets built up over 10 years in the school system.

Will see what happens. Time to try some more things. Have to finish this assignment first.


Ramirez, A. (1999). Assessment-driven reform: The emperor still has no clothes. The Phi Delta Kappan, 81(3), 204-208. JSTOR. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20439621

Steffy, B. E., & English, F. W. (1997). Curriculum and assessment for world-class schools. Lancaster, PA: Technomic Pub. Co. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=e9tRHgAACAAJ

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