20 July 2005

Standardized test scores are rising in both the US and Cambodia


I don't think that the increase in scores reflects any real improvement in math knowledge.

The dramatic improvement in scores on the standardized math test given to all Cambodian students is due to a dramatic dumbing-down of the test, not on any enhancement of the students' skills.

This is, of course, a result of making performance on the test the goal. As usual, the goal was defined in terms of something easy to measure, rather than the presumably desired outcome.

The improvement in the US would seem a little more solid, since it reflects better scores on a test that hasn't changed much. The biggest problem with this approach is that score improvements may only reflect that teachers are now teaching to the test instead of teaching mathematics.

In neither case are we getting any valid answer to the real question of how good students are at math.