Making Dry Bones Live: The Role of Testing in Equity and Access.Report as inadecuate

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There is a need for more precise descriptions of the claims to truth of standardized tests, of their interpretive authority, and of the limits of understanding which are reached through their processes. Typically minority students who score poorly on such tests do because their schools fail to connect with them. Pedagogy, therefore, must somehow accommodate the linguistic diversity of the classroom to make knowledge equally accessible. Standardized tests are created to reflect the cognitive styles, contexts, and experiences of the white middle class who make up the mainstream, and this fact is not unrelated to the inequitable access open to opportunity, power and privilege in this society. The downward spiral of inequity can be reversed by focusing on teaching and learning desirable skills rather than on testing them, and on ensuring that all students experience diversity in faculty and course content. Also, certain uses of standardized assessments may support and enhance the learning process. One method of improving standardized college placement exams is giving students a chance to do them earlier in their high school careers and thus to be given feedback on their practice essays. An appendix contains example diagnostic evaluation form for practice essays. (EF)

Descriptors: Access to Education, Educational Discrimination, Educationally Disadvantaged, Elementary Secondary Education, Equal Education, Higher Education, Standardized Tests, Testing Problems

Author: Purnell, Rosentene Bennett


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