Mid-term-ination

The State of Connecticut has opted to offer the SAT exam to all juniors (grade 11) in high school instead of the standardized test (Smarter Balanced Assessment or SBAC).  

The date state official have selected is March 2, 2016,  just 40 teaching days from today.

Traditionally,  the third week of January is “midterm week” with high school students reviewing for a week before. Students usually take the subject exams on half-days; four days (minimum) are necessary to complete the exams. In other words, 10 days or 25% of the instruction time scheduled before the SAT will be given over to teacher created midterm exam.SAT

You might then wonder, “Why give midterms?” Colleges are abandoning the exam format in favor of projects or papers, and because colleges are walking away from exams, several school districts in Connecticut have decided to eliminate exams (www.nsta.org) as college prep.

In the Journal of Science Teaching, an article  Assessing and Refining Group Take-Home Exams as Authentic, Effective Learning Experiences explains the benefits of performance based tasks instead of a multiple choice exam:

Educators and learning experts increasingly view fixed-choice exams as limited measures of student learning as they create artificial situations that do not reflect learners’ responses in real-world situations (Oakleaf, 2008; Simkin, 2005). Similarly, hourly or “midterm” exams fall short because they impose unrealistic time limits and often do not target higher level cognitive skills. In contrast, performance- based tasks that simulate real life application of skills, knowledge, and competencies enable assessment in authentic contexts.”

Giving a midterm before the SAT exam means that 11th grade students  will take two major exams within 30 days of each other.

As noted above, neither test simulates the real life application of skills…but the combination of the two will probably stimulate plenty of angst!

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