Yup. I’m even a Social Studies teacher. Multiple choice exams tell you nothing about what students know. These exams have always frustrated me, but when thinking about my post today, my son asked me what we could do, since it was raining. Without prompting, he wanted to play board games, and then he chose Candy Land. I didn’t offer “fun” choices for him to pick from, and I didn’t offer the board games that we have. He, at 3.5 years old, made an appropriate choice from thinking through possible options in his head. Life isn’t a multiple choice test; why is school? My opinion—those that use multiple choice assessments are lazy. Yup.
Now, I have used them, and my students still take multiple choice tests on test prep benchmark exams, but I don’t like them. So, when I bad-mouth multiple choice, it’s not because I’ve always felt this way. THESE EXAMS ARE FABULOUS TIME SAVERS. Some supporters of multiple choice will inevitably argue that good data analysis can help an assessor understand a student’s choice. The benchmark state assessment exams I am required to give feature A VERY DETAILED data analysis. However, my colleagues and I were still left wondering WHY students answered they way they did. Multiple choice tests ultimately tell you very little about what students know, er, guessed.
Some will argue state assessments, AP exams, etc. still use multiple choice, thus students should still be exposed to them. NO! NO! NO! This argument is so shortsighted. As teachers, we shouldn’t be preparing students for a test, but for life beyond tests. I would like strong evidence that teachers should prepare students for a multiple-choice life. I don’t think there is any argument that could sway me.
So what do we do about state assessments? Change them too! Bah, now he’s talking crazy talk. Nope. In the coming days, I’ll post a simple solution that state legislators MUST consider, and one that will provide better evidence about the quality of education in the classroom. It’s pretty simple, I promise.