Professor Gavin Brown is a psychometrician and a cross-cultural psychologist of assessment at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland. Education Standardised tests aren't perfect but they do warn us there is something wrong in our school system. If we don't like the results, we shouldn't ignore the test data Opinion: It has recently come to the public's attention that the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) disagree why so few students are passing the recently created compulsory tests in reading, writing, and mathematics. The squabble, as it has been reported in the media, is about whether the tests are the problem. The MoE suggests the tests may be too hard, poorly constructed, or badly marked. NZQA disagrees and says it has extensive experience with crafting, administering, and marking high-quality statistically validated tests and examinations. Few of us outside the MoE and NZQA have seen the tests so we cannot run an independent validity or reliability analysis, which might point out any deficiencies within the tests run by NZQA. However, it is possible the tests are a good measure of what students need to know at these critical junctures in their schooling – and there are clear deficiencies in achievement levels. A key mechanism for determining whether the NZQA results are believable is whether they align with previous research into the performance of New Zealand students. If the results resemble other sources of data about student writing competence, then we have good […]
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