Thursday, December 08, 2005

Low Scores? Are they important?

The following article talks about states that fail on standardized science tests.

Are we failing these kids since we are not meeting their needs or are they failing since the instrument is not well written?

This article worries me when I start to think about it. The media drives a "craze" sometimes. This seems like one of those cases. When we do the CSAP science portion this year I am frightened to think what will happen in our classrooms if the scores are not good.

Maybe we need to look at what we do and see if it is meeting the needs of the students. But what about the test? If we are trying to meet the test then are we missing the point of getting studnets to construct their own learning (at least in some cases)? If the scores on a test drive what we do in the classroom then I think we need to rethink standardized tests and their use. How do we start that discussion with people that are interested in the test scores? Shouldn't we be worried about the idea of creating an interest in science that would lead students into future studies of science? (These are the things I have been occupied with and are taking away from my time reading.)


Karl Fisch said...

I think the story is actually talking about state science standards themselves being inadequate, not students failing on the tests (since they aren't required yet).

I think it will be very interesting to see how AHS does on the Science CSAP, given that we've always done well on other standardized science tests. But - and I know I'm in the minority here - I still think that focusing on these tests is the absolutely wrong thing to do. While the tests are certainly one point of data to help us evaluate, I would agree with your statement that we should be more worried about creating an interest in science, along with ability in science.

I think there are really two levels here. We want all students to be scientifically thoughtful and able to discuss and analyze our world from a scientific perspective. I think it is going to be more and more important that they are scientifically "literate" so that they can help society make good decisions based on the best scientific evidence. They need to be able to evaluate the science - and the statistics that go along with it - in order to make good decisions.

And then we want our students who are going to continue with their study of science beyond the high school level to really be doing science, not just learning about how science has been done (related to your comment in class about how we really should call our classes the History of Science). I think it's key that we try to get our students truly involved in the scientific process as much as possible, even if that means letting them go down the wrong path for a while in their investigations (what we were talking about in class the other day). Obviously we eventually must get them back on the right path, but I want to repeat my statement from class that I find it ironic that all the great science has been done by people who spent most of their time making mistakes and learning from them, but we rarely let students in our science classes do that.

Roger Hess said...

Of course I am in a department whose subject is deemed insufficiently important to warrant a CSAP, but it seems like if you teach science the way you think you should, the students will do fairly well on a test, unless there truly is something wrong with the test. So, construct away!