Thursday, April 13, 2017

Standardized Testing: SAT

I give one of Kubota's friends a ride into school nearly every morning and so I get to chat with him for about fifteen minutes.

The Juniors have been taking standardized tests this week.

He took the SAT on Monday and he was bummed about the writing portion because he was unable to complete it.

My rider told me that the essays must be handwritten and that every essay is graded by two humans.

I am sure that is so test takers cannot cheat.  However, handwritten essays are so far from what colleges require now days that I am not sure it is a meaningful measure.

A better solution would be to provide test takers with non-WIFI enabled laptops, tablets or Raspberry-Pi keyboards.  Wipe the memory and load it with a basic word processor with cut-and-paste capability and perhaps spell-check.  Then cut them loose.  After the test, enable the WIFI and upload the essays.  Dump them into a very capable word processor like MS Word and run  spell and grammar check with reading statistics.  Finally, have a human read it for logic.
Not my handwriting, but close.
I would bomb the essay portion of the SAT.  My handwriting is almost illegible and my hand cramps when writing.  Graders favor longer essays with 400 words being about optimal and it would take me more than fifty minutes to print out a legible copy even if I knew exactly what I wanted to write.

Another thing is that handwriting lacks cut-and-paste capability.  How often have you started writing something only to find that you wrote a better "topic sentence" somewhere besides the last sentence of the first paragraph?  Easy enough to fix when you have cut-and-paste.  It is a re-write if you are hand writing or typing the essay.  I think my rider was so freaked by having to write it out perfectly the first time that he spent too much time planning it out sentence-by-sentence.

The Big Brother solution

Pull up ten random emails that the student has written or 50 text messages and analyze them for grammar and spelling.  If character is how you behave when you don't think anybody is looking, one's baseline ability to communicate in writing is captured in the language you use when cranking out everyday emails.

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