The Glowing Scantron

There is only ONE THING I hate more than numbered list titles–you know: 12 Great Apps for Engagement! 27 Reasons This Dog Is Having A Better Day Than You! 195 Ways Evernote Can Change Your Life! Seriously, I despise numbered titles. Just give me a good, old-fashioned article or blog post without the uber-convenience of numbered headings; your lists are dumbing down what could be good writing.

So, back to the thing I hate MOST: computer-based, high-stakes assessment.

Join the club, right? I know that this is a hate that’s pretty widespread and easy to support. But here’s my specific problem with testing: it’s a technology priority. All chromebooks go bye bye and get handed off to a silent lab of testers. All computer labs are shut down and become a place of gloom and doom. Great learning with technology stops and the tech becomes, once again, a typing and clicking machine–no longer a transformative tool. Desktop support becomes the testing troubleshoot squad. Teachers start saying things like, “Those third graders really needed time on the computer so they could learn how to type better for the assessment.

I could barf.

The thing I spend all year championing is suddenly a device of doom–an insular world of judgement and right and wrong, a multiple-choice machine, a locked-down, secure-browsered testing tool. What–three weeks ago-was a path to information, a global community, collaboration, and creativity is now, basically, a glowing Scantron.

And, dear SBAC, no matter how interactive you make that glowing Scantron, it’s still a standardized test. Having the ability to drag and drop an answer or hover for definitions of words does not (not not not not NOT) make a test more valid or accurate or real-world or ANYTHING. It just makes it harder to TAKE the test, because–now–in addition to content literacy, kids need pretty extreme amount of computer literacy in order to SHOW their content literacy.

This is not a new thought by any means. But, I figured it couldn’t hurt to add my opinion to the giant stack of negative opinions of this thing. One day, that giant stack of opinions will fall over on someone’s head.

Until then, carry on, minions of the glowing Scantron.


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