Monthly Archives: March 2012

Test stress causes 'tampering with test scores'

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution ran a story this past weekend on test-score tampering across the nation. This morning there’s a video chat with the AJC reporters on Facebook. The issue of test tampering is serious in many ways. It sends a message to students that cheating is permissible and even warranted in some situations. It gives parents and teachers an inaccurate picture of how their students are actually performing. It brings into question public policy on testing.

From my standpoint, as a performance psychologist, test tampering speaks directly to the issue of test stress.  We are loading so much emphasis on test scores– from school budgets to teacher salaries to school closings– that the stress on teachers, administrators, and politicians keeps building with no end in sight.

A known, scientific fact is that when stress builds performance suffers. This was first studied in the early 1900’s and is as true today as it was then. Testing is not going to go away and for many reasons it is necessary.  Public policy makers– state legislators, national representatives, departments of education at every level — must pay attention to the escalating stress that testing is causing to all parties concerned. This has negative effects on local school officials, on teachers, parents and ultimately on students. No one functions well with this level of stress. If the tampering scandals tell us one thing it’s this:  when stress is so high, it hurts.

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Study: SAT scores do not = success

Don't count on it

A New York Times article about the SAT read, in part, “Many colleges acknowledge the limitations of the SAT.  DePauw University…asked its institutional research dept to do a study of past students to see what factors correlated with academic success. ‘The one thing that made no difference whatsoever was standardized test scores,’ said Cindy Babington, vice presidente for student services at DePauw.”

The article was about the Posse Foundation, founded in 1989 by Deborah Bial, to fund and mentor students through college. Time after time Posse students who have low SAT scores have college success.

What does this tell us?  According to the Times, “the Posse program reveals the poverty of the conventional wisdom  Read more ›

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