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The Writer Who Couldn’t Answer Standardized Test Questions About Her Own Work

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This article hits me hard on two levels. One is OVERTESTING! What are we doing when we contrive in standardized tests to create “gotcha” questions that the author of a work can not even answer? The other is a reader’s understanding of a piece. To comment on a work of literature is to bring your own background knowledge to the work. It should affect each reader in a different way. This is not to say that we cannot discuss the possible intended meaning by the author, but to claim authoritatively from a reading what another person thinks is hubris. My view of standardized tests is that you are right, KayCKay; just listen for the cha-ching echoing in the hallowed halls of learning.

KayCKay Book Reviews

Yesterday I posted a review of one of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories called The Cask of Amontillado. At the end of my review I commented that the story has been analyzed to death regarding the “meaning” of the story and what the story may signify or represent. My final comment was to wonder what Poe would say if we were able to ask him directly. My thought is that he would say it was just a story!

Today I saw an article about a poet that couldn’t answer standardized test questions about her own poems!

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  1. Mama Duck says:

    As both a mother and a college educator, it’s ridiculous and frustrating. One of my daughters recently went in to speak with the professor regarding a statistics question. The professor said, “I just don’t know the answer to this and I don’t even know how to figure it out”…? The “gotcha” meant for students and manipulating test score outcomes got ‘her’. I teach in soft skills and stopped giving my students examinations years ago. While I envy my mathematical colleagues whose grading takes about three minutes by computer and mine takes hours, at least I can glean whether a student truly understands what they have been learning. Standardized tests do not score genuine understanding of material, nor do they accurately predict or dictate lifelong success. This was an interesting article – thank you for sharing her blog post.

    Liked by 1 person

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