Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why Testing Doesn't Work - New York City

I taught a 300 level English class at CUNY Hunter College in New York for two semesters in 2008-2009. Many of my students could not even write a coherent sentence. They had no understanding of basic punctuation, they used phone text abbreviations like "u" instead of "you." It was appalling. It was obvious that teachers before me had passed them through the system rather than taking the time to teach them. If I gave them a B or higher, they would be eligible for master classes. I ended up giving out quite a few B minuses. It was painful, but necessary.  This article in the New York Times talks about a new CUNY program that is teaching remedial English and math to high school graduates who passed all of their exams but can't do basic functions. The SJI Curriculum advocates testing for mastery, not failure. Tests will be used to asses whether students have fully understood the material, and if they have not, they will receive further tutoring.

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