I received an email yesterday from someone sharing her 17 year old nephew’s experience in taking the SAGE test. Not only are SAGE tests poorly designed, but as has been reported, presentation of material is one-sided which opens up the possibility of pushing an agenda (which we already know is at work through the origins of Common Core).
“I tried to give the SAGE test a chance. It was just going to be another test that I have to take. But after taking most of the English section, I’m realizing how little thought was put into its development. They take a completely wrong approach to testing, and the software is terrible. The essays essentially say, “Read the passages, then write an argumentative essay on the history of dirt. Make sure to include the opposition.” The questions are boring, irrelevant to the context, and many are unnecessarily difficult. The passages are poorly written, and are way too long for the time given to take the test. They don’t need to be as long as they are to test the abilities that they’re assessing. What really kills me is the “listening” questions, which talk in monotone voices that are set in random situations, and don’t supply much relevant information. The questions barely relate to the audio, and some make you infer data from charts that barely have anything to do with the audio. You still have to pay attention to the audio, however, because there are a couple fact questions, like “Which of the following approaches did the teacher use with the student?” (which sounds more like teaching theory than an English question). The audio starts immediately, and doesn’t give a chance to read the questions without stopping the audio. Without stopping it, you have to listen with no clue what to look for and then try to remember what you heard, try to listen and read the questions at the same time, or re-listen. Stopping the audio makes you re-listen to the entire thing, even though there’s no time to listen in the first place. My list of unimpressive observations goes on and on. And I’m pretty sure SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) just added the “Excellence” to the name so it wouldn’t be SAG. The whole thing is just made up of unthought-through, irrelevant components, and is an inefficient waste of time.”
When asked if any of the questions seemed political, he replied:
“The essays seemed geared toward our demographic, making some of us argue the importance of sleep habits, etc., however I haven’t encountered anything really political. Yet. The test isn’t the same for everyone, however, so it’s possible others have had political questions/essays. And the essays are very one-sided. While you’re technically allowed to argue either side, they only supply information promoting one side, and you’re only allowed to reference information from the supplied passages.”
Another student on the same feed posted this:
“When I took this test I had to write an argumentative essay on what the government should fund: scientific exploration of bees or gardening and farming education. That, in my opinion is a super lame choice. I was also really frustrated that I couldn’t do tabs, to keep my thoughts organized I had to do 2 spaces instead and who knows if they’ll take points off for that or not. Is that grammatically correct? Before I took the test, I asked my teacher what this test has to do with anything and apparently if I fail, I still move on to the next grade; if I fail, nobody cares. If I fail my grade still stays the same. My teacher, like most teachers, graded for participation and the outline of the essay. I was also really confused on the essay question when it said “use 30 minutes to read the passages and write an essay on it” and by the time I was done reading the passages, 20(ish) minutes passed. This left 10 minutes to plan and write the essay(not that the time was enforced anyway). What? Really? I was just confused…”