Timed tests are so evil!

Posted on January 24, 2017


… or not.

This is, in my humble opinion, like … sugar.   If it’s used wrong, all kinds of horrible things can happen.   (Or… maybe… curse words or criticism.)

Ceasing timed tests does not change the rest of the cultural forces that “ruin math” for kids.   I saw a post where kids were playing a game where instant recognition was absolutely necessary to win a game — and this was touted as a way to get fluency without the horrors of … shudder, oh me… timed tests.

Hello.   If I am a slow processor, this game is going to ruin math for me.   It is still reducing it to instant recall.

On our untimed placement test, a student can score well enough to get into an advanced course  by taking the algebra problems and painstakingly testing them out with real numbers to choose an answer.    (I’m going to work with the strengths obviously present and see what we can do… but it’s a challenge! )  It’s a trick right up there with the best “speed things up” tricks — and as fallible.

Hmmm… that sounds like its own post:   Slow Tricks that Expire.   Yes, I’m thinking of the students who keep counting… so 11 – 2 means counting all the way down to 2… every time…

I’m not sure “timed tests” would solve this problem, but I can tell you that not having them causes problems, too.   I can tell you that a much bigger problem is this weird expectation that an assessment teaches a skill.   Yes, good ones do!  THere aren’t many good ones.

A timed test means that the student not fluent with the facts doesn’t score well — but it doesn’t teach the facts.   “You have to learn that!”  isn’t the same as teaching it, unless you’re privileged enough to have the resources to facilitate the learning.  (Equity…)  Stopping the timed tests doesn’t teach the facts either.

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