Thursday, March 29, 2012

Replicating the findings raises concern about the standardized test

After teaching 95 students how to decode the standardized test questions and answers without reading the passage, I gave them an 8-question, no passages reading test.  Where they should have gotten 25 per cent (random guessing with four answer options), the group average was over 60 per cent.  Indeed, the average for the 95 students was 5.1 corrects, 2 ½ times the expected outcome from chance.  The standard deviation of the set was 1.38.  The t-test p value for these results 0.0001.  In other words, the probability that 95 testers would average 5.1 corrects when they should have averaged 2 (according to chance) is exceedingly low.

I repeated the test with 89 of the same 8th graders, using 8 different question and answer sets.  This time the only instruction was to "think about the patterns we talked about last week."  The group average was 5.3 corrects with a standard deviation of 1.33.  These results also return a p value of 0.0001.  If possible, the student performance in the second test was even more “extremely statistically significant” than in the first test.

The replication of this test of students' ability to identify patterns in questions and answers calls into doubt the accuracy and usefulness of Washington state's standardized reading multiple choice questions.

No comments: