Large-scale educational testing in Chile: Some thoughts

Recently in the auditorium of Universidad Finis Terrae, I argued that Chile’s Prueba de Selección Universitaria (PSU) cannot be “fixed” and should be scrapped. I do not, however, advocate the elimination of university entrance examinations but, rather, the creation of a fairer and more informative and transparent examination.

Chile’s pre-2002 system (PAA plus PCEs) may not have been well maintained. But, the basic structure of a general aptitude test strongly correlated with university-level work, along with highly focused content-based tests designed by each faculty is as close to an ideal university entrance system as one could hope for.

I have perused the decade-long history of the PSU, its funding, and the involvement of international organizations (World Bank, OECD) in shaping its character. Most striking is the pervasive involvement of economists in creating, implementing, and managing the test, and the corresponding lack of involvement of professionals trained in testing and measurement.

In the PSU, World Bank, and OECD documents, the economists advocate one year that the PSU be a high school exit examination (which should be correlated with the high school curriculum), then the next year that it be a university entrance examination (which should be correlated with university work), or that it is meant to monitor the implementation of the new curriculum, or that it is designed to increase opportunities for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds (in fact, it has been decreasing those opportunities). No test can possibly do all that the PSU advocates have promised it will do. The PSU has been sold as a test that can do anything you might like a test to do, and now does nothing well. It is time to bring in a team that genuinely understands how to build a test, and is willing to be open and transparent in all its dealings with the public.

The greatest danger posed by the dysfunctional PSU, I fear, is the bad reputation it gives all tests. Some in Chile have advocated eliminating the SIMCE, which, to my observation, is as well managed as the PSU is poorly managed. The SIMCE gathers information to be used in improving instruction. In theory, a school could be closed due to poor SIMCE scores, but not one ever has been. There are no consequences for students or teachers. Much information about the SIMCE is freely available and more becomes available every month; it is not the “black box” that the PSU is.

It would be a mistake to eliminate all testing because one is badly managed. We need assessments. It is easy to know what you are teaching; but, you can only know what students are learning if you assess.

Richard P. Phelps, US Fulbright Specialist at the Agencia de Calidad de la Educacion and Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago, editor and co-author of Correcting Fallacies about Educational and Psychological Testing (American Psychological Association, 2008/2009)

Large-scale educational testing in Chile: Some thoughts was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Large-scale educational testing in Chile: Some thoughts was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Large-scale educational testing in Chile: Some thoughts was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

WHEELBARROW

“Wheelbarrow”
13 December 2013

There is an old story about a worker, at one of the South African diamond mines, who would leave work once a week or so pushing a wheelbarrow full of sand. The guard would stop him and search the sand thoroughly, looking for any smuggled diamonds. When he found none, he would wave the worker through. This happened month after month, and finally the guard said, “Look, I know you are smuggling something, and I know it isn’t diamonds. If you tell me what it is, I won’t say anything, but I really want to know.” The worker smiled, and said, “wheelbarrows.”

I think of this story when teachers find excuses for not letting their students see the exemplary history essays written by their high school peers for The Concord Review. Often they feel they cannot give their students copies unless they can “teach” the contents. Or they already teach the topic of one of the essays they see in the issue. Or they don’t know anything about one of the topics. Or they know more about the topic than the HS author does. Or they don’t have time to teach one of the topics they see, or they don’t think students have time to read one or more of the essays, or they worry about plagiarism, or something else. There are many reasons to keep this unique journal away from secondary students.

They are, to my mind, “searching the sand.” The most important reason to show their high school students the journal is to let them see the wheelbarrow itself, that is, to show them that there exists in the world a professional journal that takes the history research papers of high school students seriously enough to have published them on a quarterly basis for the last 21 years. Whether the students read all the essays, or one of them, or none of them, they will see that for some of their peers academic work is treated with respect. And that is a message worth letting through the guard post, whatever anyone may think about, or want to do something with, the diamonds inside.

Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
http://www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
And of course some teachers are eager to show their students the work of their peers….

The Concord Review—Varsity Academics®

WHEELBARROW was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

WHEELBARROW was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

WHEELBARROW was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

The College Puzzle

Stanford University

The College Puzzle

A College Success Blog by Dr. Michael E. Kirst

Homework Insufficient In USA Secondary schools

April 17th, 2013

Guest Blogger: Will Fitzhugh

The most important variable in student academic achievement is, of course, student academic work.

Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement found that:

of (U.S.) Public High School kids: [143,000 surveyed) in 2008

82.7% spend 5 or fewer hours a week on written homework…
42.5% spend an hour or less each week on homework…

Korean students spend, on average, 15 hours a week on homework,
added to 10 hours a week of hagwon after school = 25 hours a week.

[i.e. 25 times the time some U.S. HS students spend, or at least 5 times as much as the great majority of U.S. HS students…]

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“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
http://www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics®
http://www.tcr.org/blog

The College Puzzle was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

The College Puzzle was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

The College Puzzle was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog