How to fix educational testing

Educational testing is currently a hot debate in this country. Here's a sampling of the discussion:
  • In Texas, some schools are attempting to phase out the use of standardized tests for measuring accountability
  • In New Mexico, hundreds of people protested the use of testing in evaluating teachers.
  • In New York, 80% of parents at one elementary school opted out of a standardized test, forcing the school to cancel the exam.


Parents, educators, and students have all pointed out several key problems caused by standardized tests:
  1. Testing uses time that could be better spent elsewhere.
  2. Teachers are often uncomfortable with the idea of having months or years of their work evaluated by a brief exam.
  3. Because of the pressure imposed by these tests, teachers feel constrained to teach to the tests.
  4. Most students don't like taking the tests.
Instead of administering aggravating tests, at School Yourself we're combining learning and evaluation into a single, seamless experience.

What's the purpose of educational testing, anyway? It's a scalability issue. States can't afford to evaluate every second of a teacher's work in the classroom, but they can afford to give all the students a test once a year to see what they've learned.

Scalability is the same reason we have any tests in the classroom at all. Teachers don't have the time to sit down with every student and objectively explore everything the student does or does not know. So teachers give tests, which may not do as good a job. But tests are "good enough," and take up a lot less time than interviews.

With online learning platforms like School Yourself, we have the opportunity to do away with testing once and for all. With highly modular content and detailed analytics, we can assess what students know in real time. This eliminates the need for separate testing, and evaluation becomes part of the learning experience.

On the School Yourself platform, students are interacting every 30 seconds or so (whether it be answering a question, playing with an open-ended sandbox, etc.). Between our dynamic lessons and the practice problems we'll be adding in a few weeks, we can take high-resolution snapshots of student knowledge that are much better than what any standardized test can do.

As we fully integrate evaluation into the learning process, a challenge that digital learning platforms like ours are uniquely suited to, standardized tests will become a thing of the past.

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