One of the more dicey dialogues I was part of at this year’s EdcampMN was on exploring the idea of using an LMS to make one-shot standardized testing obsolete. This topic, proposed by Dan McGuire, was interesting because it was not really an argument against the use of standardized testing but a rethinking of how it might be deployed. Dan asked us to ponder if course content were properly aligned with the content standards, and we used an LMS (Moodle, Blackboard, Conexux, Schoolology, etc.) to periodically test students while they were in the process of taking the course, would there be a need for a single shot high stakes test?
In the notes for this session there is a link to an interesting New York Times article that discusses how testing can help make us smarter. That article promotes an idea similar to that of Dan’s arguing that smaller tests given more frequently can actually help us with our retention of information and better at reading for content. But what about domains of learning that do not focus on information recall or computation?
I left this session thinking that breaking up the test and embedding them in courses would help to address some issues students have of test anxiety. It might also be a better measure of how well a teacher taught the content. But, I am a a bit skeptical. Would employing such a method only work to reinforce the already strong trend to eliminate or at least reduce resources spent on content areas not easily tested? Short of doing away with them altogether, how else might standardized testing be re-envisioned?