Monday, August 18, 2008

Bad at Standardized Tests

The students protesting their placement scores (sorry about all this on placement, but 'tis the season) tend to justify themselves with the claim that they're bad at standardized tests.

Is our homebrew placement test really a standardized test?

What about the exams that I give to 250 calculus students to determine their grades? What about the multiple choice final that is worth 20% of the grade?

And how is being bad at standardized tests different from being bad at tests? And how is being bad at tests different from being bad at math?

Could I reasonably argue that the point of the placement test is to predict a student's success in calculus so the placement should stand -- especially if a student is bad at tests?