We’ve been asking educators from all grade levels to share their stories and thoughts about assessment. Our responses span a wide spectrum, but in one arena the message from the college level has been pretty consistent: The emphasis on high stakes testing in K–-12 has not done great things for college students’ literacy skills.
“I’ve been teaching college writing since 2000, and my experience indicates that the increasing role of tests interferes with students’ ability to see writing as rhetorical because tests foster a rules-based approach. This is so sad for so many reasons, especially since the tests don’t provide useful data and since students often feel discouraged by the tests.” – Stephanie
“I see the downsides of standardized testing with each group of first-year students who come in the door, as they look at reading and writing overwhelmingly as a means of testing.” – Doug
“I have noticed that my students’ writing lines up very well with the standardized tests they are taking in public school and lines up very, very poorly with the kinds of writing that take place in college, especially as college teachers are working to move away from assigning so many essays and are moving toward assigning projects more relevant to workplace writing. Students know a formula. I have had to argue with first-year college students that a paragraph isn’t good just because it’s long. I never wanted to be the professor who went around lamenting that writing was getting worse and that students just weren’t what they used to be. I don’t feel that way exactly. My students are brilliant, but they have been trained to write in a way that is so formulaic and limiting that they have a really hard time learning to write with any kind of flexibility.” – Crystal
So what do we do about this? Stay tuned, and share YOUR stories.