Re: DSM: (Almost) errorless measurement

Robert Swanson (
Thu, 09 Nov 2000 14:30:08 -0800

Do SVS students love being tested? Oh yes! How about the walk around the
ledge of the building to see how far one can get? How about the speech they
give to the school so to graduate (a love-hate sort of test)? How about the
pass-fail when submitting an idea for a corporation? Are there more? Perhaps
ability to cooperate in the culture and to hold integrity before the
judicial committee? At least one student said everything is about
challenging oneself to go one better. (Say, what if staff felt the same?)

SVS students love tests that relate to the environment and are somehow
relative to appropriate human development (test the five senses before
moving on to test the intellect). We intellects got on this stagecoach that
only goes to City of Memory for Intellectual Recall. Geez, there are other
places to go! Get out of the box.

The burden is on the testers to comply with nature. If we access our
feelings and creativity then we come up with some cool (sorry...some RAD)
adventures. We can take data on these adventures (not on the students). Now
the testing will pertain to what quality and variety of adventures we are
offering. If students have individual success this is an indicator of
quality of the school program. We assume all people can evolve. This does
not need testing.

How about these:
1) Teachers form breakout groups that go to different areas of the campus.
They do something interesting. Count the number and duration of student
involvement and later assess implications to student's lives.
2) Invite professionals to come exemplify their trade. Invite students to
design and implement school activities exploring trades of interest. Make
the assessment the number of assists a student receives for a project.
Probably the student will gladly post a count of these.
3) Staff create their own part time projects for their own self-development.
A volunteer student committee makes a big show of assessing success of
staff. The school assessment then counts the number of crossovers modeled by
staff and taken up by students (immediately and in five years). Find other
ways of assessing how this changes the overall integrity of the school.
4) Routinely ask the students to describe what is relevant about school to
life. Ask what they intend to do about it. The assessment is how many
students care to respond to the questionnaire, and, how many indicate
initiative to do something. Then assess the number of supports the students
utilize from the school and outside environment to accomplish their

Notice that all these empower students, provide choice, have intent to
upgrade (evolve), involve potential for exploration, are easily relative to
the broad environment and human development (on various levels), incorporate
invitation and modeling, and focus attention on crediting the milieu (not
discrediting some poor person who does not happen to fit some tiny
intellect's box).

And what if staff choose not to share enthusiasm for adventure and
creativity? What are they modeling-teaching?

 ...the security of a pretty small box.

Okay, so what do you think (excuse me... FEEL)?

on 11/9/00 4:10 AM, Kristin Harkness at wrote:

> Arnie,
> Exactly how would such a test be administered at a Sudbury school? It could
> not be mandatory. Even "offering" it would be inconsistent with the model,
> which says that the staff must lay low and wait to be asked for assistance
> in any student's endeavor. Sorry, I just don't get it. Students who want
> to test themselves, for whatever reason, are of course free to take any test
> they like, from a Cosmo quiz to the SAT. And the results of such tests are
> the individual's business.
> Going further, I don't see why anyone would want to test Sudbury kids,
> except to make a point in a larger educational debate. Such testing would
> not be for the 'benefit' of the kids themselves (if any benefit can accrue
> from being tested) but would be for the benefit of the testers.
> The Sudbury model allows people to find what interests them and pursue it,
> to the degree of their interest. This is an amazing skill, which I am still
> working on in my own life. Having been traditionally schooled, I find that
> one of the hangovers of my education is my own unwillingness to believe that
> I have truly learned something unless I have someone else's seal of approval
> on the knowledge which I have gained. Self-evaluation is useless if you do
> not believe that your own assessment is valid. Subjecting people to the
> assessment of others, and asking them to care about the results, is, in my
> opinion, a step in the wrong direction.
> Kristin Harkness
> SVS parent
>> At 14:01 8-11-00 -0800, Kathleen Stilwell wrote:
>>> From my study of the Sudbury model it seems that
>>> mandatory testing of any child could not be a part of
>>> the Sudbury model.
>> Multiple Evaluation is in it's essence a method of self-assessment
>> and this in my opinion fits quite well in the Sudbury model.
>> Arie
>>> No matter how clever a test is designed to be, unless
>>> a child were to choose the test for self-evaluation it
>>> would have no value at all.
>>> Within the education system tests are used to label,
>>> categorize, and sometimes to guide and to mold a
>>> child's future. Unless a child asks for such
>>> labeling, categorizing, guiding and molding (and I've
>>> never met a child who would), then our education
>>> system is assuming a power it has no right to.
>>> Kathleen Stilwell, Las Vegas, NV
>>> --- Marko Koskinen <> wrote:
>>>> I agree. One of my fellow students is doing her
>>>> graduate research about
>>>> her children. She is repeating the test by Piaget,
>>>> but doing the test
>>>> using situations and materials that are common to
>>>> her children so that
>>>> the children really understand what's going on and
>>>> they really have a
>>>> problem that they can relate to. When Piaget did his
>>>> tests they were
>>>> kind of random and didn't necessarily have anything
>>>> to do with the
>>>> world view of the child, so the children really
>>>> couldn't understand the
>>>> problems and didn't pass the tests. But my fellow
>>>> student has come to a
>>>> conclusion that the tests really aren't even very
>>>> hard problems for her
>>>> kids when they are set in a common situation and
>>>> have meaning to the
>>>> children.
>>>> So I could assume that the key issue here is
>>>> motivation. If the problem
>>>> is really important to you and you really want to
>>>> solve it, you use much
>>>> more attention and effort in solving it, thus the
>>>> probability to pass a
>>>> test with "real" problems becomes much more probable
>>>> than solving
>>>> "hypothetical" problems. This means that the "school
>>>> test" actually have
>>>> no value at all, because they test only "school
>>>> survival", not real life
>>>> skills and "global knowledge".
>>>> Also there is a lot of research in the field of
>>>> transfer, meaning how
>>>> the learner can use the things learned in a new
>>>> situation, stating that
>>>> learning is very much situated, and there is great
>>>> difficulty in
>>>> transferring the knowledge in totally different kinds
>>>> of environment.
>>>> There is also great difficulty in making instruction
>>>> into transferable
>>>> knowledge.
>>>> This again means that if you learn something at
>>>> school and know it in
>>>> the test, it is very likely that you have no means
>>>> of using that
>>>> knowledge in real life situations, thus making the
>>>> test results totally
>>>> useless and meaningless.
>>>> There is much discussion about these issues in
>>>> Sudbury literature and
>>>> there is also a lot of research supporting the
>>>> assumptions that are made
>>>> in the literature.
>>>> Marko Koskinen
>>>> Finland
>>>>> the main problem is with the tests themselves.
>>>> They don't measure real
>>>>> knowledge. Real command of knowledge only shows
>>>> itself in the presence of a
>>>>> true problem. A true problem is not one in which
>>>> the answer is known and must
>>>>> be picked from a pile (That is just an exercise),
>>>> but one in which the answer
>>>>> doesn't yet exist and must be discovered or
>>>> created. You may eliminate guessing
>>>>> from computer-graded standardized tests, but the
>>>> only way you can measure true
>>>>> knowledge is by how a person uses the knowns to
>>>> find the unknowns. And thus the
>>>>> unknowns must be truly unknown to the person, and
>>>> not just one of a pile of
>>>>> possibles.

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