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[teacherartexchange] Question Standardized Assessment


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Feb 15 2011 - 11:44:21 PST

This got a bit long, so feel free to skip to the last paragraph to see if you want to respond.

Yesterday, Watson was one of contestants on Jeopardy. Watson is an AI (artificial intelligence) IBM computer program that is playing against the two best Jeopardy players in history. IBM had a team of top programmers spend three years on this project. At he end of the first day, Watson tied for first with one of the two human contestants.

I noticed that in the State of the Union speech, Obama did not say anything about the arts when he talked about improving education. In Indiana, our state governor, department of education, and state legislators are trying to pass new laws that prohibit salary schedules that give credit for graduate school work. They wish to base salaries on merit. They want to use standardized test scores combined by observation assessment of teaching to pay more to the best teachers and dismiss the worst teachers if they do not improve.

I am retired, but feel I may still be able to speak for the benefit of children by pointing out options that are better than those being used now and those being proposed for the future. However, we have to be careful what we ask for.

As art teachers, I was always thankful that most other educators were a bit mystified by what we were doing. I was glad that standardized tests did not bother with assessing what students were learning in art.

Now we are reading that the creativity of children has been going down since standardized tests have become required.
". . creativity scores had been steadily rising. . .until 1990. Since then,
creativity scores have consistently inched downward."
from: Bronson, Po & Merryman, Ashley. "The Creativity Crisis."
Newsweek, July 10, 2010, retrieved July 27, 2010

I am not saying that Watson is an IA program that deals with creativity, but I think it illustrates that it would be possible to use AI programs to replace human interviewers and readers that have been needed in the past to administer creativity assessment. Hence it may be possible to include creative thinking skills, empathy dispositions, and so on, in the standardized testing in education. Howard Gardner, in FIVE MINDS FOR THE FUTURE, lists: disciplined mind, synthesizing mind, creating mind, respectful mind, and ethical mind.

HERE IS THE QUESTION: If the states were to use AI (artificial intelligence) programmed computer based testing to make valid assessments of more than the academic discipline minds, what do you think about it? These would not be bubble tests, but they would ask open questions with many possible answers. How would it effect the learning environment in all classrooms? How would it influence the teaching of art? On balance would it be worse than we now have, or better than what we now have? Why?


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