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December 08, 2011

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids

I really, really don't want to this post, but based on the title you know I have to say something. So let's start by reading the title-- "tests forced on kids." Really- no kidding. Guess what--tests are forced on so many of us at so many levels-- let me start to make a list- AP, SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT and that is just the beginning- how about the PE, USMLE, bar examinations. CPA tests, medical licensing exams (if you don't what all those letters stand for, feel free to ask).

So in this country we use tests to decide if people are competent. If you don't like it--ok fine-- which tests do you want us to stop giving? The ones that check to see if engineers really know now to build a bridge? The ones that see if our doctors know where our hearts are? The ones that check to see what lawyers, plumbers, electricians even financial ad visors know? Or perhaps the only tests we want to stop giving are those that make us have to admit that we are doing a really bad job educating so many of our poor and minority kids.

As a measurement expert (which well yes I kinda am), when I look at a test, the first thing I want to know is does it measure what is being taught- which is presumably that which we want kids to know (aka content validity). If it does then I don't care how well an old dude with a nice house scores on it. If this is what we think kids need to know then we need to check to see if they know it. And if they don't know it- then darn it we need to make sure that they do learn it. If the test doesn't measure what we think kids need to know, well then we need to change the test..

And you know I'm just going to leave it there because I just saw that author used ideology, politics, hubris, greed, ignorance and the conventional wisdom, all in the same sentence. It's time to stop reading.

December 06, 2011

December 6, 1989 Remember

Each December 6th, along with many other science blogs, we at FairerScience remember the 14 women engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec who were killed because they were women in engineering. It's been 22 years and it is still important to remember. A couple of years ago Alice Pawley posted this tribute

"On December 6, 1989, an armed gunman named Marc Lepine entered an engineering classroom at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. He demanded all 48 men in the class leave the room, lined up all 9 women against a wall, and, shouting "You are all a bunch of [expletive] feminists!", proceeded to shoot them. He went into the hall and shot 18 more people, mostly at random. He finally shot himself.

He had killed 14 women all together, and injured 9 more women and 4 men.

The women who died could have been anyone. They could have been your friends, your mothers, your sisters, your lovers, your daughters, your neighbors, your students, your teachers, maybe even you.

They were killed because they were women."

Remember those who died in the Montreal Massacre:

Genevieve Bergeron, 21, was a 2nd year scholarship student in civil engineering.
Helene Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to take her master's degree.
Nathalie Croteau, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering.
Barbara Daigneault, 22, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and held a teaching assistantship.
Anne-Marie Edward, 21, was a first year student in chemical engineering.
Maud Haviernick, 29, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials, and a graduate in environmental design.
Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, was a 2nd year engineering student specializing in engineering materials.
Maryse Laganiere, 25, worked in the budget department of the Polytechnique.
Maryse Leclair, 23, was a 4th year student in engineering materials.
Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, was a 4th year student in mechanical engineering.
Sonia Pelletier, 28, was to graduate the next day in mechanical engineering. She was awarded a degree posthumously.
Michele Richard, 21, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials.
Annie St-Arneault, 23, was a mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte, 21, was a first year student in engineering materials.

Please honor the white ribbon as a symbol of the fight against violence against women.

December 7, 1989 my then 12 year old daughter went to her junior high school with the names of those 14 women with an in memoriam pinned to her shirt. I cried when I saw what she was doing-- both for the women and for her courage. Each year I think of my daughter and of those women and so hope that we have the courage to fight to make sure this will never happen again