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Pretesting and Sensitive Standards-Based Test Essay

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Updated: Nov 15th, 2020

Why is pretesting really requisite?

One thing teachers should know is that in the modern educational environment, all stakeholders claim to prioritize quality over quantity. However, as teachers, we understand that the quantity factor is a major cause of pressure for us. Pretesting is a quality factor, and like many other quality factors, it is time-consuming and unquantifiable at the same time. When a teacher is pressed for time, he/she is likely to employ pretesting as a mere formality. On the other hand, pretesting is a tool whose advantages can only be realized by above-average teachers. Therefore, it is essential to employ pretesting, but only if it is a quality and not a quantity factor. Teachers should only use pretesting for both quality and quantity value. For example, some teachers will use pretesting just because they want to insert it in their activity log. However, their only focus will be the posttest because it is more quantifiable and easily understood by the education stakeholders.

Is it sensible to evaluate the district’s teachers on the basis of our students’ scores?

This is a very retrogressive approach to teacher evaluation. Previously, education stakeholders could have been forgiven for thinking that all test-takers’ skills are standard, and content-achievement for a student is overrated. However, the expansive data that we have amassed in the 21st century shows that standardized tests are only applicable to some disciplines. Individual students have different skill sets that cannot be generalized in the manner of standardized achievement tests. Consequently, a teacher’s performance should not be tied to his/her ability to help students conform to a specific skill set. Within the current environment, teachers are primarily instructors. In my view, standardized tests are not a one-size-fits-all approach, as proposed by some education stakeholders.

Can be standards-based tests used when appraising the state’s teachers?

The one problem we have within our educational system is that most people are convinced that there is a ‘magic test’ squeeze all aspects of learning in a single formula. Standards-based tests are unlikely to be the benchmark in testing because they work under the assumption that teachers should only be teaching skills instead of content. However, content continues to be important as long as education is the primary avenue for gaining knowledge. That is why I think that standards-based testing can only appraise some teachers effectively, but not all of them. For example, it would not be easy to appraise a history or language teacher using this tool. On the other hand, this method would be useful in appraising a mathematics’ teacher.

What is an instructionally sensitive standards-based accountability test?

An instructionally sensitive standards-based accountability test should mainly enable educators to lay down a methodology for assessing their curricular aims. Consequently, teachers should be in a position to come up or satisfy content standards in a manner that benefits both the instructors and their students. An instructionally sensitive standard should at least meet the following criteria. First, the standard should have the ability to differentiate between strong and weak instructions. Furthermore, a sensitive standard should also have the ability to factor in the element of socioeconomic status (SES) within students’ test scores. For instance, I know teachers are aware that some standards tend to measure a school’s SES instead of the quality of instructions. The other important feature in an instructionally sensitive standard is that it should consider that better instructions do not necessarily lead to higher scores by the students.

How many content standards can an instructionally sensitive standards-based test effectively measure?

Well, the need for instructional sensitivity should appeal to both teachers and those who might need to assess the quality of their instructions. Therefore, a sensitive standard- based test, should have the ability to identify incidences when a low score does not necessarily attribute to the low quality of instructions. In my view, an instructionally sensitive standards-based test should primarily establish how many curricular-aims are to be assessed. Another vital content standard is the clarity of the targeted assessment items. It is also essential to focus on how many items are in each curricular purpose. Finally, the assessment should have the capacity to rate the sensitivity of each curricular aim using a reliable scale. These are some of the critical content standards that should be included in an effective standards-based test.

Why do some people recommend that teachers get their pretest-posttest results blind-scored?

In my view, the high sensitivity in matters of pretests and posttests comes from the fact that education stakeholders are yet to balance issues of quality and quantity. The perception that schools do not teach any valuable skills to students results from the quality/quantity-restlessness. Therefore, some people suggest that results are blind-scored is because they do not trust teachers. Otherwise, an accurate and well-thought-out pretest should have the ability to complement the posttest. The only need for blind scoring is to confirm the validity of the two tests. Therefore, it is null and void of having a teacher employ a blind-score because, in essence, he/she would be adjudicating him/herself. Blind scoring is only effective if it presided over by an outsider who is an education stakeholder.

Why is the split-and-switch model better than just a simple no-split and no-switch pretest-posttest approach?

The split and switch approach to treatment is better because it has the ability to accommodate tests in large classrooms. Consequently, the only downside to suing the split and switch model is whereby the classes are small because its accuracy is diminished. Another advantage of using the split and switch method is that this approach reduces the reactive aspect among students. In cases where pretests and posttests are employed, students have a diminished chance of encountering the pretesting questions, as it is the case when the no-split, no-switch approach is used. These ‘reactive effects’ can affect the quality of assessments, thereby negatively impacting a teacher’s methodology.

Can the split-and-switch model be used in small classes?

In my understanding, the effectiveness of the split and switch model becomes less accurate as the number of students becomes smaller. Therefore, it would not be advisable to use the split-and-switch model in a class where the number of students is less than twenty. In my experience, this model achieves accurate results in instances where a class has more than 25 learners. In this case, I would advise teachers to utilize a pretest-to-posttest approach for the entire group of students. Furthermore, teachers might also be required to employ blind-scoring using outside influences. The main reason why the split and switch approach does not auger with small classes is that it requires a class to be divided into two. In the case of small classes, the groups are made up of too few students, thereby affecting the accuracy of the exercise.

Do experts in teacher evaluation think it is okay to use multiple data-sources to evaluate teachers?

This is a tricky question, mostly because it presents a ‘catch 22’ scenario. On the one hand, as a teacher, I would like to be evaluated using multiple data sources because this approach resonates with my need for broader assessments. On the other hand, I am aware that if the data that is used in my assessment is not legitimate, these errors will affect me negatively. I am not an expert in assessment matters, but it is obvious to me that real expertise lies in the ability to ensure the legitimacy of divergent data sources. Consequently, I can benefit from the evaluations that utilize multiple data sources without worrying about the legitimacy of data sources. If I had to favor one approach, it would be the one that ensures that the data that is used for assessment is accurate. Nevertheless, I still insist on the broadness of assessment because this approach ensures that all divergent teaching skills are taken into account.

Do some achievement tests deliberately toss out items covering content that’s been well taught?

It might sound stupid, but this is an emerging trend whereby assessments focus on skill and ignore the content. I will let know that this trend is quite demoralizing, especially to teachers who have been in the teaching service for a while. The most prominent aspect of this trend is the practice of comparing students’ performances. It is important to note that the compared performances have to fit into pre-determined categories (such as letter grades A, B, C). The effect of this practice is that it does not accommodate the individuality of students and their skill sets. There is a significant disparity of ideology in this regard because the separation of skill and content might make sense to assessors but not to teachers. If one asks any teacher, he/she will tell that skills are only useful when they are influencing content. Consequently, it would be impractical for any teacher to focus on either of the two aspects.

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