Argument Analysis: GRE Week in Review

           Friday Dialogue from                

                                      Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to analyze the nature of high-stakes testing. 

1.)  A lot of the “Analyze an Issue” prompts are about education.  How would you respond to the below prompt if you encountered it on the GRE exam:   

“Educators should take students’ interests into account when planning the content of the courses they teach.” 

: Student interest/engagement should be a significant consideration in how an educator plans their course.  However, it is idealistic to believe that all lessons and coursework will always be high interest.  Good education demands rapport between teachers and students more than lesson plans that focus solely on “hooks” and novelties.  Note: It seems especially important to remember this in light of my painful experience teaching The Jungle this past week.
Emily:  Oh…The Jungle.  I know it is good but man is that an energy suck!  Every time I had to teach it I felt like I lost part of my soul by Chapter 6.  Great writing, Sinclair, but you sure know how to kill a smile.

2.)  The premise of this week is the GRE exam writing section; however, it brings up questions about the validity of standardized testing.  What is your position on whether or not testing reflects ability?
Aubrey: I would like to qualify.  I think student responses to essay questions reflect ability.  Good writing is good writing.  While I would like them to have more time to write I still think written responses are able to clearly reflect complexity and sophistication of student thought.  However, I’m not always sure that multiple choice is a fair assessment. There are times when multiple choice feels more like a “game” than an accurate understanding of student ability.
Emily:  Maybe it is because I’m bad at multiple choice tests (which makes me hate testing in any form), but I agree.  I feel like universities requiring the GRE for admission into a graduate education program is contradictory and silly. Yeah, I said it:  silly.  I understand that there is a certain degree of intelligence needed to thrive in a collegiate setting (thus necessitating the ACT, SAT, GRE, etc), but I feel like it should have minimal weight on the overall application.

3.)  GRE.  ACT.  SAT.  The acronyms extend beyond standarized testing to the classroom too.  Between SOAPSTone and DIDLS it’s clear the education world loves acronyms just as much.  I task you to create your own acronym that symbolizes your teaching or your classroom.
Aubrey: It is unfortunate that the acronym for Stop Bothering Me Immediately (SBMI) isn’t prettier to say.  Instead it sounds like a way to measure someone’s weight or tell them they have high cholesterol. It’s the best I have to offer in light of the fact that we’ve had no snow days or delays and it’s the end of quarter.
Emily:  I think “SBMI” rolls off the tongue, Aubrey.  It’s a great acronym.  And I kind of like that it sounds like a perverse BMI reading.  It adds to the creepiness of the statement, which will produce the same weird look from your students.

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