What's right (and what's wrong) with standardized tests and scores

Ann Cook and Deborah Meier, both longtime teachers, want parents to know about standardized tests.

They want them to know what's wrong with them, what's right about them, and how they are used by most schools.

They want them to know how to prepare their children to take the tests, as well as how to challenge what the test results are often used for.

These two teachers, recognizing not only how busy parents are, but how little familiarity most have with standardized tests, have prepared some very simple booklets containing actual material taken from tests currently in use throughout the United States.

Also, they answer some of the perennial test-related questions with careful clarity.

* Parent: ''I don't see why most of the children can't get most of the answers correct. Isn't that possible if the children work hard and learn?''

* Answer: ''No, absolutely not. It's not at all like the driving tests. With good teaching and sufficient practice, almost anyone can pass the driving test and get a license.

''If, however, the written test included multiple-choice questions about chassis engineering and aerodynamic principles, many competent drivers would fail. Standardized tests are specially designed to include items that many children in a given grade will not be able to answer.

''Could you answer questions about chassis engineering? Probably not.

''But items like these are necessary if we want a ranking order, and that is what standardized tests are all about.''

Then these intrepid teachers deal with the current minimum competency tests.

* Parent: ''What about setting some standard for high school graduation? Shouldn't we require a 12th-grade reading level for a high school diploma?''

* Answer: ''Only if we recognize that by doing so, we have also decided to graduate only 50 percent of our high school seniors.''

Those interested in knowing more about tests and testing along these lines may contact either the North Dakota Study Group on Evaluation at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D. 58202, or Ann Cook and Deborah Meier, 670 West End Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10025.

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