When it comes to taking tests, many students have trained themselves to answer the multiple-choice questions and nervously debate which letter could be the right one. Filling-in-the-blank is, as defined by Merriam-Webster, simply “to provide missing information,” information that is already been given via textbook or lecture. Repeating back what a professor teaches you in class is not, in our opinion, the best way to determine if a student has learned the material. We believe these types of test should be used in a different manner and not as staples for our midterms.
The United States participates in two international assessments: the Trends in International Math and Science Study and the Program for International Students Assessment. The studies showed that, while the U.S. ranked 39 in math and science in the TIMSS, they ranked 13 in the PISA, which measures math, science and reading. Adding the reading element, which schools have changed the way they approach reading and been successful, helped their rankings immensely.
“Mathematics literacy scores have come in below the mean, with U.S. scores ranging between 470 and 487. The most recent mathematics score, 470, is the lowest for the U.S. in the test’s history. Science literacy scores have also fluctuated within a tight range, 489-502,” said Tom Loveless in the 2017 Brown Center Report on American Education: International assessments.
We believe that practicing to take standardized tests trains people to memorize answers instead of preparing them for practical application of knowledge and when faced with unknown testing standards we [the U.S.] come in 39. We would like to see more teachers put students in “real world” situations and have them find a solution based on the skills they have learned. We believe this will not only help with the retention of important information but also provide the students with skills that the can use in life beyond college.
For example, if students are testing over area in a math class and are provided with actual objects they have to measure and give the area of. This way the teacher can see that they are measuring, using formulas and applying the information needed to solve the equation. The teacher can make it as easy (1 to 2 shapes to measure) or complicated (10+ shapes to measure, varying sizes and shapes) as needed for each class.
We understand that some fields maybe harder than others to provide “real world” application for exams but professors and students alike should be approaching the exams in a different way.
Also, we aren’t saying take away all pen and paper tests, that is not practical, we are saying that midterms (a stressful test for many) should be something out of the ordinary and more practical for the world outside of college.
Many colleges are beginning to see that tests do not define the ability of the student. In the United States, there are more than 850 accredited, bachelor-degree granting schools that do not require testing to apply, according to niche. com. A growing number of test-optional schools “recognize that no test—not the SAT, old or new, nor the ACT – is needed for high-quality admissions,” said Bob Schaeffer, FairTest public education director.
We believe that if almost a third of all accredited, bachelor-degree granting schools in the United States can see that standardization testing is not what determines the knowledge of a student or the best employee, then we should at least consider this option. Though they do it only for admissions, we believe it should be applied across the board for all exams; a pen and paper test does not define everyone’s intelligence.
In a New York Times article, ‘The Real World is Not an Exam,’ the author gives an example of a student who excelled on college exams, graduated and went into the job force. When the now degree-bearing adult had to use “real world” application for the information he learned, the person failed. This example, while on the extreme side, shows that there are many degree-bearing adults who do not know how to apply their degree to the world beyond college. In fact many college graduates don’t even get a job closely related to the major.
“Just 27 percent of college grads had a job that was closely related to their major,” according to the Federal Bank of New York.
While college grads do on average make more money with having a degree than without, according to Forbes, “the unemployment rate for college graduates is 2.5 percent. That means that one out of every 40 college graduates is unemployed.” Though this number may not seem large to some, if a class has 400 graduates, 10 of them will be unemployed.
We want all students, at all levels of education, to succeed. We are asking for the whole of the university to consider more “real world” practical application midterms and less pen and paper. We want to see this university represented in the best possible way and that happens when students from Tech shine in the professional world. Let them shine.