Math Professor Makes Excellent Point About New Way of Assessing Students

Photo credit: Bartmoni (CC-By-SA 3.0)
Photo credit: Bartmoni (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Wayne Bishop, a professor of math at Cal State University Los Angeles, wrote an op/ed in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that is a must read.

Bishop first addressed the problem of shifting assessments from multiple choice to making tests much more verbal, especially where math is concerned.

There is a widely held misconception that multiple-choice tests are misinforming because it is “easy for students to guess answers.” This fact ignores the reality that all students are in the same boat, with strong students having a better opportunity to demonstrate what they know.

As described by the officials, the new test requires students to answer follow-up questions and perform a task that shows their research and problem-solving skills. Nice as this sounds, reality is that it makes the mathematics tests far more verbal. Any student with weak reading and writing skills is unfairly assessed. That is especially problematic for English learners.

Low socio-economic Latino kids will be further burdened in demonstrating their mathematics competence, and Chinese or Korean immigrants who are a couple of years ahead mathematically (as was my daughter-in-law when she immigrated as a fifth-grader from Korea) will be told their mathematics competence is deficient. Absolutely absurd. Mathematics carried her for a couple of years until her English became good enough for academic work in other subjects.

I encourage you to read the entire piece, it’s worth the read.

HT: Barry Garelick