Deeper Issues of Testing and Cheating

So long as there are kids and there are tests, there will be cheating. If most of us are honest, we too have participated in cheating. There’s something about taking a test that makes us want to get everything right, even if there are no high stakes involved.

It’s the old way of doing things: teach the information, read it in the chapter, study for the quiz, take the quiz or test. The results determine your grade. Did you understand? Can you use the information? Did you engage with the material at all? None of this matters. What matters is that you chose the correct response, A, B, C, or D.

Masterful teachers have long known that this whole business of testing doesn’t reveal much about what students know and even less about what they can do. I think this is why the Common Core is such a good idea, because it requires that we understand enough to be able to do things, to use the information, to apply what we learned.

Many teachers give open-book tests and that makes a great deal of sense to me. After all, what I want is to create learners. Most of us as adults don’t remember all those specifics we were tested on in schools. What we do know how to do is find the information we need (usually on a search engine, but that’s a discussion for another day–our addiction to search engines for info).

It makes more sense, for deeper learning, for students to show mastery in some way. You can’t cheat on that!


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