Monday, February 28, 2011

Do schools use a bell curve grading system

I was reading an article called “Bell Curve Grading”.  Three parts that I found interesting were:
“In education, grading on a bell curve is a method of assigning grades designed to yield a desired distribution of grades among the students in a class……”
“…Because bell curve grading assigns grades to students based on their relative performance in comparison to classmates' performance, the term "bell curve grading" came, by extension, to be more loosely applied to any method of assigning grades that makes use of comparison between students' performances…..”
“…strict bell-curve grading is rare at the primary and secondary school levels (elementary to high school) but is common at the university level.”
Most elementary to high schools, that I have either taught at or heard of, have abolished the use of a bell curve grading system.  Even though they have formally abolished such a system, does one still exist below the surface?
I started pondering this idea when I heard a teacher talking about her marks.  Three years ago this teacher tried something amazing in her class and the students’ achievement increased drastically.  This achievement was demonstrated by the class average being over 90%, where in other years it was around 65%.  This teacher felt uneasy giving such high marks to most of the students in the class.
I asked this teacher, “What is the best class average to have?”, the response was “65%-75%”.  After our conversation, I proceeded to ask other teachers about the “best” class average, and every single one of them responded with a mark in the range of 65%-75%.  This sounds very similar to grading on a curve.
Wouldn’t the best class average be 100%?  Most would say this absurd; one teacher informed me that if I had a class average of 100%, I better have been teaching robots!  I laughed at the teacher’s comment about robots, and was informed we are teaching humans and as humans we make mistakes.  To give 100% to a student is truly saying this student has never made a mistake in the class.
My heart sank.  We should not be grading students on what they have done throughout the course but what they can demonstrate at the end of the course.  I fear that if you ask some educators they will say they “desire a distribution of grades among the students in a class”, which is “bell curve” grading.
Grades should not be based on what the class is learning, but actually what the student came in the class with and what the student has learned throughout the class.  My last question to all educators out there: “How many times have you given 100% to a student in a course?”  Most who I have asked have informed me that they never have.  I truly feel sad when our highest mark for a course is set outside the reach of a student.  In a sense we are asking students to run a race they have no chance in winning, and we are disappointed when they don’t finish first.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Faith Permeation in my Math Class

God and infinity; how possibly could these have something in common?
In my AP math class we were discussing ideas of infinity, and a couple of problems that force our mind to understand infinity came up.  One idea was that “There are just as many even numbers as there are numbers in your numbering system.
For some this is a nearly impossible idea to understand.  First we have to understand that infinity is not a number but an idea.  In fact there is countable infinity and uncountable infinity.  To illustrate how, when talking about infinity, it can change our logic, I used the following example:
Two spaceships are flying through space in the same direction (without getting into a discussion about whether or not space is infinite, we assumed it was).  The first spaceship is travelling at a speed of 100 km/h while the other is travelling at a speed of 10 km/h.  If these spaceships were to travel forever, which spaceship would travel the furthest distance?
At first glance, we might think the first spaceship will travel further.  However, if this was true then there must be a spot in space that the first spaceship flew by that the second spaceship did not.  When we think about it, though, this would never happen.  Every spot in space the first space ship flies by the second will eventually get to; exactly 10 times longer.
Some minds were mystified, as I was, the first time I encountered infinity.  The problem here is that infinity is a difficult idea to understand using a finite mind.
How does this relate to God?
I then informed my class that God also has infinite love for all of us.  As humans, it is not secret that we will sin throughout our life.  However, God will forgive us for all sins including ones in the past, present, and future, or big or small, as long as we are truly sorry for sinning.  Even in the bible,
Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and once they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43). However, when we stumble, we are called to confess our sins - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Yes, Christians do sin (1 John 1:8) - but the Christian life is not to be identified by a life of sin. Believers are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have the Holy Spirit in us producing good fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). A Christian life should be a changed life. A person who claims to be a believer yet continually lives a life that says otherwise should question the genuineness of his faith. Christians are forgiven no matter how many times they sin, but at the same time, Christians should live a progressively more holy life as they grow closer to Christ.
We need to understand that, even though we may make “wrong” choices from time to time, and we are truly sorry and ask forgiveness for these sins, God will always love us and welcome us into his arms.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What kind of teacher are you?

Does high school stink?

Does high school stink?
Many students would say “yes” to the above question, because high school is a place where they are told what to do over and over again.  We, as teachers, have watched other teachers teach, but how many educators have watched students learn?  How many teachers can remember back to their days in high school?  Students go to their first period class, then their second period class, get 40 min of lunch to eat as fast as they can, then two more periods in the day.  How much of what they did in that day can be remembered?
Most of the things they are told to do over and over again, they do without any reason of why they are doing it or even know where they are going to need it again in life.  Some outcomes, I teach due to my mandated outcomes, are never going to be needed outside the walls of my class.  One example is in Math 30 Applied I teach how to use a matrix.  The course is designed for students who are going into jobs where the higher end theory of mathematics will not be needed.  The question I have is, “Where are they going to use matrices in their life?”
I have heard of schools who give students “pre-tests” before they enter the school.  They use these results to determine the student’s weaknesses and enrol them in the courses they are weak in.  Isn’t this contradictory?  Shouldn’t we be focusing on interests, joy and passion for students, not what they hate? These schools are telling students “just don’t suck at the things you are bad at”.
Due to these outcomes, and mandated courses, students will ask “When will I need this?”  For which most respond with:
“You’re going to need it someday.”
“It will be on the test.”
“It’ll help you get a job.”
“It looks good on a resume.”
“It’s a required class.”
And sadly, “Because someone told me you had to learn it”
I say, there should only be two lessons from every high school class and that is to teach students how to learn and critically think.  When students, in my math class, ask me about math I respond with, “Math is the language of logic and reasoning.  If you can think mathematically, you can truly demonstrate correct logic, deduction and use of abstract ideas.  Math is about seeing patterns in life and explaining why these patterns are such.  Math allows people to make predictions about quantities or ideas that may be unknown; quantifying the unquantifiable.”
Classes should no longer be silos of information with teachers being heralds of facts, but instead we should be providing students with lenses to see the world from a new view, and allow students to create ideas that they can truly call their own.  Schools should be focusing on creating citizens not on creating workers! 
For more watch:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Facebook pilot project

During the first term, in the 2010-2011 school year, I created a Facebook group called “Notre Dame Math Discussion”.  Above is a picture of what the group looks like.
During the semester, I assigned specific questions that needed to be answered using the math discussion group.  One example, from my math 20 pure class, is the following:
Each student was given a slip of paper with different function notations on it.  For example,
the student was then required to send a message on the discussion board as to what their slip means in English.  The student that received the slip above sent me the following message, “It means you multiply the function f, with x as the variable, by 2, then multiply function g, where you substitute 2y into the variables, by 6.  Your two new functions are then added together”.
Another example from my Math 31 class:
As a class we graphed 3 functions from their equations.   I never gave any directive as to the steps, just asked the class, “What do we need to know, so that we can graph an appropriate graph?”.  The students were then asked to send me a message as to what the steps where in graphing a function.  I explained that, for this task, there is not just one right answer or one correct order of steps.  I received many messages, and later in the course I received the following picture as a way to represent the steps of graphing a function.

Students used this site above and beyond expectations.  During the weekends, I was getting messages from students asking how to solve problems.  When I was not quick to answer, students started answering their classmates’ questions.  My students were becoming teachers!

When students were incorrect, instead of deducting marks on their assignment, I would reply with a guiding question.  Students were also becoming self-assessors.  Here is a conversation between myself and a student on the week-end outside of class time.
Student: for the question x2-6x=-9 i got x= -9, 1/4 i got this by gaphing the equation on my calculator and finding the intercept lines
ME: Hey KKKKK. X does not equal -9. How did you graph it?? What did you graph in y1 and y2?

Student: x squared-6x in y1 and -9 in y2
ME: Recalculate intersect. Are you looking for x or y?

Student: x
ME:ok try again, so graph and what does x equal?
ME:Awesome job KKKK! See you tomorrow!
Student: ok thx for the help and see you tomorrow.
Most students seemed to enjoy using the site as a way of communicating answers outside of class.  Some comments I received were,
·         “I don’t have to wait for class for an answer”
·         “If I miss a class and I can now just get my homework through Facebook”
And my favourite:
·         “I enjoy the opportunity to be creative in math”
Some students, to my amazement, didn’t have Facebook.  For these students, I allowed them to complete the assignment the traditional way; complete at home and hand in tomorrow. 
How the students understood the concepts also amazed me!  In all my math classes, we started having deeper discussions about the beauty of math.  Just by having students write out their thought processes, brought in an entire new view of mathematics.
Even though I don’t use test scores as an indicator of understanding, their exam and quiz marks also increased.  The exams I use were common, and all my class averages were 70%, 75%, and 85%.  Not to be misleading, the third class was an advance placement class, so those marks are to be expected.  Beyond the marks, the comments I heard in my class and on my course evaluation are what brought joy to my heart, here are some of them:
“I finally understand where math is in my life”
“I never thought math was this easy”
“I enjoy being able to try something and not lose marks if it is wrong”
Overall, this project was a great success!  Facebook opened up discussions outside of class that I have never had before.  I cannot wait to try and grow this project more.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Discovering the Pythagorean Theorem

Geometry, according to Wikipedia, is “Earth-measuring” and a branch of mathematics concerned with questions of shape, size, relative position of figures, and the properties of shape.
Geometry, according to some students, is completing worksheets that have “diagrams are not to scale” written on them, solving for unknown sides of meaningless triangles, and being told formulas created by some guy named Pythagoras.
In the past, I contributed to the second definition of geometry by telling students the Pythagorean Theorem and not giving them a chance to discover it themselves.  After telling them this theorem, I destroyed any interest they might have had by handing out a plethora of worksheets.  We need to stop this destruction of geometry and start showing students the true power and capabilities that geometry opens up.
How can this be done? 
First, stop telling students what the Pythagorean Theorem is and let them discover it for themselves.  If this theorem is an outcome of your course, but you are unfamiliar with how to show it, click here for 92 PROOFS OF THE PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM.
I have not integrated all 92, but here is one discovery method:
Put students in small groups and give each student a stick that is 5 feet in length (or some smaller ladders might work, and you might want to go outside for this activity).  Instruct students to lean the stick against a wall and have them measure the distance the bottom is from the wall, how far up the wall the stick reaches and long the stick is.  Have them complete this for different distances.  The challenge is to eventually be able to determine how high the stick reaches up the wall by only measuring the distance from the wall the stick is, and by knowing the length.
 Eventually, some groups might come up with the relationship and some groups might struggle with it.  For the groups that are having troubles, guide them to put the stick 4 feet away from the wall.  This way the stick will reach 3 feet up the wall.  You can also give them hints as squaring the distances.  Guide them towards the theorem, but don’t just give up and tell them the theorem.
As more and more groups are discovering the relationship, you can ask them to try their theory against walls that are not exactly vertical.  This will show them that this theorem only works for right angled triangles.
The important aspect of this one activity is the meaning created behind the activity.  You will witness that before the theorem is even talked about, students will start to see that by changing one length the other two lengths also change.  They will also realize that the stick will always be the longest side. Two ideas we sometimes skip over or take for granted that students understand.  This activity can also be used to introduce the TAN, SINE, and COSINE ratios.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Taking control of your own PD

Jeff Delp is a K-12 administrator, sports fanatic, technology junkie, bicycling enthusiast, and jedi in his own mind.  His blog can be found by clicking here, he recently blogged about taking control of your own PD.  Here is his message:

Magic markers, butcher paper and Post-It notes.  In combination with poor professional development planning, they are enough to strike fear into the heart of the most dedicated educator.  All too often, these are the tools for a “one-size-fits-all” training session–frequently involving the creation of a goofy diagram, or poster, for presentation to other trainees.

For years, we have understood the importance of differentiating instruction for our students, so why has it taken us so long to recognize that teachers deserve equal consideration and individualization?

Technology has forever changed the face of professional development in education.  As is the case in the classroom, technology allows for the personalization of learning–seizing upon the specific needs and interests of the educator.  Tools like Twitter, Google Reader and blogs allow educators to participate in PPD–perpetual professional development.  No more retreating into the relative isolation of the classroom to apply a strategy without any help or assistance.  Simply get connected with your Personal Learning Network (PLN), be affirmed, receive feedback and provide suggestions.

Want to feel re-energized in the classroom, at your school, and in your profession?  Put away the butcher paper and magic markers, take charge, and make your professional development meaningful.  Start by creating a Twitter account and follow #edchat – a fantastic way to build a PLN.

No worries–if you aren’t a little bit overwhelmed by what is out there, you probably aren’t paying attention.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Talk on Intrinsic Motivation

I created and used the following Prezi,

Each ** represents advancing to the next part. 

Here is my presentation on Intrinsic Motivation:
I have stopped assigning daily required homework to my students.  Over the last 4 years of my teaching career, I assigned daily homework, and at the start of each class I would "check", or assess, the completion of their work.  Every day I would either send home a worksheet, a page out of the textbook, or a task to be completed for next class.
Was this excellent practice or malpractice?  When I started to think about it, what I was doing could be considered malpractice.  The students would open their work booklets to the assigned page and I would walk up and down the rows and either give a grade of 100% or 0%.  It is ludicrous to call this true assessment.  I was grading their work ethic more than their actual knowledge of math.  Almost every students' mark was being either inflated or deflated due to their work ethic.
Why did I give homework? At first, I had believed that daily homework teaches good work habits and/or develops positive character traits. 
After reading the research I have yet to find one piece of evidence that supports this claim. 
After reading this I still believed in homework as it gave students more time to master a topic or skill.  I have read reports from researcher Richard C. Anderson that claims "the actual learning that is occurring depends strictly on time spent learning the concept". 
However, when Anderson completed further research he found that this claim also turns out to be false. The majority of people that I have encountered that are supporters of daily required homework fail to look at the tasks from the students’ point of view. 
Most “drill and practice” assignments actually do the contrary to students’ learning, and actually “drill and kill” any interest to the subject area.   Also, when students are struggling with a concept, asking them to complete questions on this concept will become frustrating and still no actual learning will occur.  I have realized that I need to stop treating my students with the notion that “if I give them more to do, then they will know more”.
In my classes, I challenge students in meaningful contexts and provide them with questions that are similar to the ones in class.  I do not require my students to complete these questions, I do not grade these questions, and I do not force my students to do work which is not important to them.  The meaning of the math is what I put as a priority in my class, and homework as second. How can we change this?
Here is a worksheet I used to use during class.  The students would follow along and write the answers in.  Students became disengaged.  I was constantly asking students to “pay attention”.  What I failed to realize that these students did not find any value or merit in the assigned task.  Now, at the beginning of class I have created structured review questions for the students work on in collaboration with their group members.  Once completed, I move onto the lesson for which we complete until the end of class.  The next day we start again.
Difference; the questions that are given are no longer pseudo-context but actual real life application.  Here is an example of a question I currently use.  First I ask my students about their knowledge of the JFK assassination.  Some talk about conspiracies they may have heard.  Next, the task;
1)      Determine the distance all three bullets travelled before hitting an object
2)      Determine the closest distance the car came to the shooter.
These are two specific outcomes in my Math 20 Pure course.  Before I would give my students the equation of the line and the point from which they had to calculate the distance.  Now, my students must CREATE the line of the car, the co-ordinate system, and label which points are important.  Depending on where you set the origin for your Cartesian Co-Ordinate system the points and equations of the line may differ. 
THIS IS OK! Students need to realize that there isn’t always ONE way to complete a question.  Contrary to popular belief, in math there are multiple paths to an answer.  For this question, there is a “right” answer, and for other questions there may be multiple “right” answers.  This needs to be taught.
DISCUSSION about homework and meaningful tasks
This is what are students are telling us.  They leave their homes and lives, where entertainment and engagement exist readily and enter our schools where we are asking them to “calm down.”  Instead we should be awakening them by challenging their minds.  We can no longer motivate students by carrots and sticks, or grades and consequences.   Asking a student to complete something with the reasons, “I told you so”, or “It will be important later” is no longer motivating students. Students need to have motivation within.
To illustrate this let’s take two teachers, who both work in middle class Red Deer:
Ivan – a teacher who is motivated by true intrinsic motivation.  Ivan loves to teach solely to inspire young minds.
Edward – a teacher who is motivated by only extrinsic motivation.  Edward loves to teach for the 2 months off at summer, the pay check, and the honour of calling himself a teacher.
Scenario 1: They are paid $100 000 a year for teaching; a pay which allows them to both live comfortably.  Their administration then offers a 10% (or $10 000) increase in pay if they were to take on extra teaching duties.  Due to their motivations Ivan would say “Yes”, while Edward would decline.
Ivan is agreeing as he is seeing an opportunity to stimulate more young minds.  Edward declines since he does not need the increase in pay to sustain his lifestyle.
Scenario 2: They are paid $30 000 a year; a pay which will NOT allow them to both live comfortably.  Their administration offers the same deal, 10% (or $3 000) increase to take on extra teaching duties.  This time, however, they both accept the deal.
Even though the increase is less this time than in scenario 1, Edward needs the increase to maintain and continue living his lifestyle. 
Teachers need to understand that extrinsic rewards, or carrots, only motivate students to a point.  For some, this point is a 50%, and others it may be a 90%, but there is a mark XX% for every child.
I used to believe that this mark was where students would jump from.  They came into my class wanting to achieve AT LEAST that mark, and from there try their hardest.  After watching how students reacted to their marks closely, I found the complete opposite.
 Once a student achieves his/her XX%, the learning curve will drop drastically.  To further illustrate this, an actual comment from a student:
My parents require me to be on the honour roll, which is to have an average of 80% or higher.  Since my mark in this class is an 85%, I can stop trying.”   Students are using their wanted mark as a ceiling for their performance not a floor! This is occurring more often than we realize!  When we start creating classrooms based on learning, and not marks, the paradigm shift will be amazing.  Students will start holding themselves accountable for their learning, and there will no longer be an XX% for which students will maximize their performance at.  We need to start answering the question of “Is this for marks?” with “NO! It is for learning!”
What does guide motivation?
Autonomy: students want to be self-directed, and to have control over their own learning.  If you only want compliance from students, then you cannot allow them to be self-directed.  However, self-direction will allow for true engagement to flourish in a classroom.
Proof: A software company called Atlassian, out of Australia, does something very unique.  Once, every quarter, they allow their employees to work on whatever they, with whomever they want, and however they want.  They are provided with beer, cake, etc. so as to create a fun environment.  The only catch: whatever you create, fix, or solve, you must show your results.  The company has seen, just in these 24 hours alone, a large array of fixes for existing software, new software, and so on.  “Pure un-diluted autonomy truly works!”
Mastery and purpose: Students truly want to get better at tasks they are required to complete.  No one enjoys not knowing, or not being good, at something.   Also, students need to know the WHY part just as much as the HOW.
Proof: “People will do things for free, spend time doing it for the fun of it and never expect any reward from it” Most people will shake their head at this statement.  If you are one of those people, look at the site “Wikipedia”.  Here is a site that is created solely on people doing research, spending time reading, and then providing their knowledge FOR FREE.  Look at how many educational blogs there are; people sharing their ideas, thoughts and answers with the world, for no gain at all.  What drives them? “Mastery and contribution”.
What does this look like in a high school math class room?  Here is an assignment I once used.  Before giving it, I knew the students were not going to be engaged, so I put some humour “textie bookie”.  Of course this made them laugh a bit, but entertainment does not necessarily mean engagement.  After some thought I realized there is no autonomy here.  I am giving students the price of their house, the mortgage rate and even the years they will amortize the mortgage over.  Since when does this happen?  In life we have choices but in school we are told what to think.  This year, I changed the assignment to this.
Start giving questions that don’t just have one right answer.  Instead of giving students information why not just provide them the context but ask them to research the information?  I allowed students to collaborate with others or work alone.  The world was their boundaries.  This time I heard comments such as “WOW! I can’t afford that” or “Geez, never thought it would be that expensive”.  Also, some students informed me of great conversation they had with their parents because of this assignment.  They had autonomy and understood the purpose.
Another example from Math 30 Applied; here is a page from our work booklet.  BORING!  I have been to very few places with perfect square blocks, but this is what I gave my students in previous years.  This has now been changed to this:
Using the city plan of NY, NY, students were asked to create different paths from an actual location to another actual location on the map.  No longer is this out of context, nor did I say “In case you ever encounter a perfect set of city blocks this how to solve”.  We actually came up with the REAL solution from different points in the city of New York.  Students even challenged other groups from different points.  Again autonomy and purpose!
Once we realize that our job should focus around students, and the outcomes, reasons, and justifications surround the student, we will then be promoting learning in schools and not just ranking students.  Students will become intrinsically motivated to complete tasks, not because of marks, but actually due to the fact that they understand the purpose, want to master the task and have autonomy about how to solve it. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Info about Standardized exams, focused on PAT in Alberta

Here is some information on the standardized exams in Alberta for grades 3, 6 and 9. 
First off, the definition of a standardized exam:
A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner.
I urge all parents to read and make an informed decision on whether or not their child participates in the exams in grades 3, 6, or 9.  As a parent you actually have the choice to whether or not your child participates in these exams.  For dates and times of these exams, you are to ask your child’s teacher or principal.  If you choose to not have your child participate you can withdraw your child, by sending a letter to your child’s principal.  No consequence, through marks or other tactics, can be taken against your child.  Taken off the Alberta Education’s website:
If a parent withdraws a student from participation, the school is obligated to mark the student “absent” not “excused” on the List of Students. A copy of the parent’s letter indicating that the
child will not be participating should be attached to the Principal’s Statement.

From the Alberta government’s website, the reasons of the exam are:
·         determine if students are learning what they are expected to learn.
·         report to Albertans how well students have achieved provincial standards at given points in their schooling.
·         assist schools, authorities, and the province in monitoring and improving student learning.

Also, further in the document states,
Careful examination and interpretation of the Achievement Testing Program results can help reveal areas of relative strength and weakness in student achievement. Teachers and administrators can use this information in planning and delivering relevant and effective instruction in relation to learning outcomes in the Programs of Study.”

Now, in the document, it also states:
Achievement tests can assess only part of what is to be learned. In addition, many factors contribute to student achievement. Personnel at the authority and school levels are in the best position to appropriately interpret, use, and communicate school authority and school results in the local context.”

Reading these two statements states that the PATs can help find areas of strength and weakness in a child’s achievement, but the people who are best to know what a child actually has learned are the teachers of that child.  Click here for more on Achievement VS Learning

I have done some research around these exams and also wanted to include what I read elsewhere.

First we should be aware of the costs.  In 2003, the PAT and diplomas cost the government $12 million, while they only spent $4 million on curriculum.

An informal "count me out" movement against excessive testing is gathering momentum around the globe. Hundreds of teachers in Britain have recently voted to boycott the tests. Hundreds of parents in Alberta have requested that their children be exempted from the tests. A U.S. group is even suggesting that all politicians take all the tests.  

Currently, the Alberta Teachers Association is trying to abolish the grade 3 PAT entirely, due to the fact of the age of the students.  Virtually all specialists condemn the practice of giving standardized tests to children younger than 8 or 9 years old. I say "virtually" to cover myself here, but, in fact, I have yet to find a single reputable scholar in the field of early-childhood education who endorses such testing for young children.

Also, I have read research stating that standardized exams test more on socioeconomic status then actual learning.  For decades, critics have complained that many standardized tests are unfair because the questions require a set of knowledge and skills more likely to be possessed by children from a privileged background. The discriminatory effect is particularly pronounced with norm-referenced tests, where the imperative to spread out the scores often produces questions that tap knowledge gained outside of school. This, as W. James Popham argues, provides a powerful advantage to students whose parents are affluent and well-educated. It's more than a little ironic to rely on biased tests to "close the gap" between rich and poor.

Data from the USA standardized exam, the SAT:
Family Income
Average SAT Score
$30 - $40K
$50 - $60K
$70K +

The test makers call their multiple-choice tests 'objective' and would have us regard objectivity as a virtue. But the term 'objective', when applied to the tests, is really a misnomer. The objectivity resides not in the tests as a whole but merely in the fact that no subjective element enters the grading process once the key has been decided upon. Yet the choice of questions to ask, topics to cover, and the choice of format, that is, multiple-choice as opposed to essay-answer, are all subjective decisions. All 'objective' means, in the narrow technical sense, is that the same mark will be received no matter who grades the test. The chosen answer is simply judged as 'correct' or 'incorrect' in accordance with the key, no argument or rationale is permitted, and the grading can be done by computer. In this sense, all multiple-choice tests are "objective."

But it is important to realise that saying a test is "objective" does not mean that the questions are relevant or unambiguous; nor does it mean that the required answers are correct or even "the best." Even more important, calling the tests "objective" does not mean that the tests are not biased. As discussed above, standardized tests may discriminate against many of the best candidates. It is more generally accepted that these tests are biased against women, minorities, and the poor.

Bias can take many different forms. With women, test scores underpredict grades. Although women tend to score lower on standardized tests, they tend to earn higher grades in college.  At least one study has found the scores also under predict grades for Hispanic students.  Bias against black students takes a different form. Although there is no clear evidence that test scores consistently under predict the grades of black students, it seems that test scores are far less reliable predictors for black students. Or in other words, even more errors in prediction will be made for black than for black students. This form of bias is known as differential validity.

Finally, tests cause stress and depression. Teachers our on edge all year with regards to how to prepare children for the tests. Children become nervous and depressed worrying about how well they are going to do on the test day. I'll bet that doesn't help them to do better. To think that a child being tired, hungry, or nervous during a test can totally effect their results in and of itself says a lot about the fallacy of any test, least of all a government test.

Children, human beings that is, are turned into numbers. A high number or a low number. Instead of making changes in thinking of the thoughts, feelings, emotions, curiosity, of real people, our children, the powers that be see only numbers. Numbers that represent living breathing children.
If you require more info, you can refer to the websites below.
"Large scale educational assessment: the new face of testing" in Passing the Test: The False Promises of Standardized Testing.
Hampton, Wayne. "Challenging the testing regime in Alberta."