Stolen minds and Certified!

I've read Michael Gaddy's "Ordained By the State: A Recipe for Failure" and made me want to put together something I've been putting off: testing is meaningless.

Certification or test results do not mean a whole lot other than the ability to pass tests.

For example, a lousy people person might be "smart" enough to pass tests for a medical degree but may never be successful in the real world.

During college, I saw some of my classmates taking computer science courses without the passion. Since I self-taught how to program, I had a drive to know more and do better in my class work (study was a no brainer since I already knew most of the stuff being taught). I couldn't understand some of them, those who were struggling to just pass the class, had the audacity of bothering to even major in the subject (computer science).

After reading up on education, homeschooling (home education) and news of various problems at public schools, I now understand how schooling does not equal education and testing proves nothing.

True education is the ability to learn new ideas, as well as the ability to synthesize ideas and/or experiences into new concepts and inventions. These qualitative skills cannot be measured by testing. You can tell it when you see it, but not something you can quantify to identify (let alone predict or check for the potentials of) this ability.

The problem with testing and certification is that the test taker has to predict what frame of mind the test maker had when writing the questions and then come up with the answer which best fits in that framework. You are automatically disadvantaged if you do not have similar background as the test makers (which often results in charges of racial bias, etc.). And English IQ tests do point out that if English is not your native language, results will be lower than if done in one's mother tongue. (For me, English is more native than Japanese but I am far from 100% native, so my test taking on the language/grammar side isn't so hot.) In schools, one has several weeks or months to get used the teacher's test making ability. With standardized tests like Texas' TAKS tests, things can get dicier since most teachers do not have the same framework as the those who created the standardized tests. (Which can explain why some school districts do poorly compared to others -- some disctricts have more/most teachers who make tests the same way as the standard test writers?)

What test prep training courses like Kaplan helps with is to get used to the framework of the standardized test makers (SAT, ACT, etc.). The closer your teachers are, the easier you can pass these tests. The farther they are, the more time is needed to practice tests and somehow get used to the deviating test framework (which some people in Texas complain about: teachers spending too much time on TAKS prep).

In the real world, who cares? When I pick a doctor, I look for someone experienced and not too cold of personality. I don't care what his degree(s) are. Certification doesn't give me any warm fuzzy, esp. those given out by the government.

Over the last few months (end of 2004 and early 2005), there has been many drugs pulled off the market even though they were approved by the FDA. Certified by the government but wasn't done "well enough" such that people died or injured enough to get serious review. The problem with testing and certification is that people will do the minimum to get away with it, even if they have to mess with the test data or even the results.

(Previewing this, it seems I'm all over the map. I may reedit or rewrite this later...)