Education Editorial: Exams

By: Bill Bosher - email

Well it's time for exams.

Colleges and universities are finishing their semesters and high schools are about a month away. Teachers and researchers continue to debate the value of course ending exams.

Does one big test at the end of the semester fairly evaluate the achievement, or lack, that has been made for roughly three to five months?

Is daily progress on average a better indicator of success?

Most colleges understand that the grade point average, or GPA, is the best predictor of a high school student's potential success in college. Not the testing Super Bowl, SAT or ACT, but daily feedback is the best gauge.

Assessment is perhaps best used for diagnostic purposes, like a physician examines a patient to determine a treatment plan. But unlike medicine, educational testing is used to determine if the student is academically dead or alive, and if still breathing, testing is used to determine relative scholarship. Relative is used because we are never quite sure what a "B" is worth or what it means.

Critical to testing is an understanding of the standard against which the measurement is being made. If we know what is expected, we have a much better chance of hitting the target. While it is critical to educational and job success to have a good grasp of content and skills, it is most important to comprehend what we believe about work and life, our values, and to translate them into virtues, how we act. Oh, the testing for these standards is daily and the consequences are great, so it's probably good to practice.

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