The purpose of standardized tests

It was explained to me that the purpose of standardized tests is to measure a student’s level of retention of material.

I don’t disagree with this statement, but it shines a light on the fundamental problem and philosophy of standardized tests.  By default, this assessments can’t require critical thinking or problem solving, and the primary skill a student needs to be successful is a strong memory.

Last year, a former student would use my room during lunch to tutor students in other classes.  One day, he was trying to explain how to solve a particularly difficult math problem.  One of the students in the group turned to him and asked him how he could possibly understand how to do this when no one else in the class did.  He said that when he was in my class, I had the students watch videos that explained topics in the class.  Whenever he doesn’t understand what his other teachers are saying, he just goes on the Internet and finds other resources that explain it in a way he understands.

To all my students who read this blog:  I am not preparing you to win at Chemistry Jeopardy.  Hopefully,
during our time together, I will help you develop the skills to solve problems creatively and, if nothing else, learn how to find the answers you seek.

Winning at Jeopardy doesn’t prove you are smart.

Creating the show Jeopardy does.


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