Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1931 vs. 2012: Assessments

While this test could not be used at the current 8th grade level, there are some elements that I find rather admirable. First of all, while some of the questions are merely testing whether or not certain trivial information was remembered, this is still an important and prevalent part of student testing (the material not so much). Students need to know the basics, and this is certainly effective. I also liked how there were no multiple choice questions (which is the worst) and was predominantly short answer or essay questions. Strong writers often become strong thinkers, and tests like this help teachers assess a student's critical thinking capabilities.

Yes, it is obvious that this test would not work for current 8th graders. However, context is important. Living in 1931 West Virginia at the height of the Depression was probably not the time schools were terribly focused on educating children, and children were probably far too busy and stressed to worry about a silly test. We might scoff at some of the questions (especially those about hygiene, penmanship, and what your county is known for producing), but these questions were certainly relevant and important to know at the time. A few of my kids could certainly go over the basics of penmanship and hygiene.

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