Multiple Choice Tests

The multiple-choice test is the standard model today for assessing education in this country. In various fields, and at various times, we use other forms of assessment, but when the stakes are high, we almost always come back to the multiple-choice test. And at the moment, standardized testing is the only "objective" method we have to determine whether "the standards" have been reached. Testing has come to mean multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank, and therein lies the problem. Multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank tests cannot be used unless the answers sought are well known, explicit and precise. Because the content of the tests must be clear and agreed upon, what is taught has to share the same characteristics. No teaching of debatable points or open questions or curiosities to be mused upon. The premise is that facts must be taught and then tested. To get children to be intellectually committed to fact memorization is difficult.

The convenience of the multiple-choice test (and other tests which have simple right answers) is incontrovertible. But these tests perpetuate the myth that is the crux of what is wrong with today's education system: The Myth of the Right Answer. In a multiple-choice test, there is a right answer. This is rarely true in real life, however. In real life, there are nearly right answers, answers that were missing a step, and most important, situations in which there is no right answer at all. Should the US have invaded Iraq? There is no right answer to this question, but there are many interesting answers. But tests being tests, those are not the answers that will be called for in any standardized exam, where it is always better to test a date instead.

Next Story The Right Answer System

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