WHAT EVERY TEACHER AND PARENT SHOULD KNOW ABOUT STUDENT EVALUATION
Volume 11 Number 5.
This is one Canadian professional book that could do well. At less than nine dollars, it would be a worthwhile addition to the personal collections of all our 150,000 classroom teachers and a useful acquisition for any public library serving parents who are active in school affairs.
The author has distinguished academic qualifications and holds a directorship at OISE but, more important, he is a disciplined writer who cut through the jargon and arcane statistics to produce a practical, readable handbook that is more useful for clarifying daily problems than passing examinations.
This means that there are no mathematical diagrams or graphs—not a single one—but plenty of candid discussion concerning the good and bad evaluation practices to which our children are being subjected. The author is unequivocal about where he stands on many of the issues that could be considered controversial. He maintains, for example, that the "classification" and "certification" of pupils is a valid function of public schools. He also points out that diagnostic tests such as those that measure intelligence and achievement are essential and, contrary to popular wisdom, often of most benefit to exceptional children or those from lower sociological origins.
However, half his book is devoted to the less sensitive matter of how and why teachers should use such common evaluative tools as multiple choice questions, matching exercises, cloze tests, oral presentations, essays, and projects. Examples are well chosen and implications for various subjects clearly demonstrated.
Finally, the importance of accurate testing procedures for those dealing with the politically-charged questions of homogeneous grouping, streaming, acceleration/deceleration and access to higher education are discussed from the viewpoint of an educator who wants to inject more realism into the system. Mark Holmes is undoubtedly a conservative who is not afraid to use tests to label and select, but he wants it to be done rigorously and fairly. He has provided teachers who are willing to accept that challenge with a practical manual to guide them in their work.
Howard Hurt, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
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