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Posts Tagged ‘Pearson Education’

At my husband’s college reunion yesterday, we heard a former classmate talk about a wonderfully innovative school he foundedĀ  in San Diego (High Tech High).

After hearing that a fairly typical class project was developing a genetic bar code to identify endangered species in the bush, my husband wondered how such an inventive school can function in today’s teaching-to-the-test world. I myself figured that whatever the kids absorb from meaningful projects and cutting-edge teaching they absorb deeply enough to pass tests if they need to.

And when I think of the lengths to which test mania is going, I think more schools should learn from High Tech High. Consider the latest testing aberration: robots grading essays.

Les Perelman at the Boston Globe gives examples:

” ‘According to professor of theory of knowledge Leon Trotsky, privacy is the most fundamental report of humankind. Radiation on advocates to an orator transmits gamma rays of parsimony to implode.

“Any native speaker over age 5 knows that the preceding sentences are incoherent babble. But a computer essay grader, like the one Massachusetts may use as part of its new public school tests, thinks it is exceptionally good prose.

“PARCC, the consortium of states including Massachusetts that is developing assessments for the Common Core Curriculum, has contracted with Pearson Education, the same company that graded the notorious SAT essay, to grade the essay portions of the Common Core tests. Some students throughout Massachusetts just took the pilot test, which wasted precious school time on an exercise that will provide no feedback to students or to their schools.

“It was, however, not wasted time for Pearson. The company is using these student essays to train its robo-grader to replace one of the two human readers grading the essay, although there are no published data on their effectiveness in correcting human readers.

“Robo-graders do not score by understanding meaning but almost solely by use of gross measures, especially length and the presence of pretentious language. The fallacy underlying this approach is confusing association with causation. A person makes the observation that many smart college professors wear tweed jackets and then believes that if she wears a tweed jacket, she will be a smart college professor.” More here.

Uh-oh. Sounds like the children’s book Petunia. Fortunately, a timely explosion taught the silly goose that books have pages you need to read, that carrying a book under your wing doesn’t make you smart.

More explosions needed.

Photo: blog.spoongraphics.co.uk

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