There's no escape.

Assessment is everywhere!

This weekend, I visited one of my best friends in Springfield, IL. On Sunday before my return flight home, I decided to buy a magazine to entertain myself on my flight. Although I do read a lot about education, technology, and assessment, sometimes I like to read about things that are not work related. So, I bought the September 2009 issue of Family Circle.

On the cover, new slow cooker recipes, 45 ways to save $, and 40+ pages of “home sweet home” ideas are promised. There’s also a section on back to school. I don’t have any school-age children, so I wasn’t so excited about the style trends for kids as I was the great tech buys promised. Well, would you believe right smack in the middle of my magazine there is a four page article “Testing 123: Everything you need to know about SATs, ACTs, APs and more. Pencils down!”? I just can’t get away from assessment nerdery!

One of the things that I found interesting was the article points out that test-prep for these tests is important to help students become familiar with the directions and format. David Hawkins of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) says that there are large studies that show that for the SAT most students’ score increase only about 30 points overall after test prep. For the ACT, he says a recent study showed scores increased about half a point after test prep. Here’s what I think is really interesting about these numbers… the increases are tiny! Why???? I know why! Testing for the sake of testing does not improve student performance. Without quality instruction on what is being tested, students just won’t make marked improvements. This applies to most anything, I think! We must assess with a purpose… to inform instruction. Then we must use those results to plan and adjust what we are doing. That’s when we’ll see increases in student performance.

On an unrelated note, I also learned in this magazine that eating a cup and a half of blueberries a day can reduce belly fat by up to 12%. I suppose that means by themselves and not in muffins. Oh well!

Your Friendly Assessment Nerd, Porter