|Summer 1991||REBOUND Volume 2|
If you are a homeschooling parent or designated instructor and you want to find out what your children know about a subject at a given point in time (and you absolutely cannot resist testing them), please consider the following information about testing procedures. The kinds of testing procedures that have been developed by the educational system have been developed out of teacher convenience and have nothing to do with measuring what a person knows about a subject. Educators know from the outset that it is not possible to properly teach more than 5 children at a time. Yet, because they are lacking in native intelligence, they go right ahead and accept teaching positions in which they agree to teach 25 to 30 children at a time. Although it is not possible for an educator or for any human being to meet the needs of 25 to 30 children, educators usually go ahead and try anyway, at least during the early stages of their teaching careers. When educators do try to meet the needs of so many children, they quickly bankrupt themselves. Once bankrupt, educators must then resort to a system of convenience. All current teaching and testing practices are born out of this system of teacher convenience.
Furthermore, current testing procedures are designed to blame and punish children for the fact that the educators and school officials have forced them into a system built on improper teacher: to student ratios. Once you place children in a system that is built on improper ratios, there is no justification for making anything that happens after that the fault of the student. In other words, you cannot blame the children and say that the children have failed to learn when the system in which they are learning was a faulty system from the outset. The testing systems that are used in schools are born out of the faulty system of improper teacher to student ratios and are designed for the convenience of over-burdened teachers who do not have the time or the resources to properly measure the knowledge of 25 to 30 children at one time.
If you absolutely must test a child's knowledge, here are a few things to avoid:
If you absolutely must test someone's knowledge or understanding of a subject, you must remember that you will be testing only the person's ability to remember and synthesize that particular information at a particular point in time. A person who may not be able to answer a set of questions at ten o'clock in the morning might be able to answer the same questions later that day or the next day. It is a well-known fact that people have "on" days and "off' days. Anyone involved in diagnostic work, such as physicians, electricians, computer technicians or engineers, knows that their own diagnoses of people and things occur within very complicated parameters. A physician might see a patient at ten o'clock in the morning and give one diagnosis and then may be confronted with another patient with exactly the same presenting problems at two o'clock in the afternoon and give a completely different diagnosis. What a person can remember and synthesize about a subject can change drastically from hour to hour. Testing a person on a subject will also not reflect what a person will or will not do with that body of information later on down the road. Nor will the test define the circumstances in which that information might later be used.
The best way to test a person (if you absolutely must test someone) is to first give the person an essay test. The questions contained in the essay test should include all of the elements and sub-elements that the instructor wants the student to respond to. If the student is unable to respond properly to test number one, then the instructor should give the student a second test. Test number two should contain all of the same questions as test number one. But, instead of responding to these questions in writing, the person being tested should give all of his or her responses orally.
If the person cannot respond properly to test number two, then a third test should be administered. In test number three, the instructor should give the student a practical situation that contains all of the elements and sub- elements defined in test number one and the student should be asked what he or she would do in this practical situation. The student should respond orally in his or her own words. If the student is unable to respond to any of these three tests, then it might be assumed that the student is not able to express proper answers to this particular material at this particular time. One might conclude that the student either needs more study, or is not interested in that material right now, or is under too much stress to answer. One should not assume that this same student will be unable to answer these same questions the next day. One can only assume that the student, for whatever reasons, was unable to respond to that particular material at that particular point in time.