Monday, April 12, 2010

I've said it before: standardized tests are stupid. Or maybe "standardized" is the wrong word... multiple-choice test about subjective issues?

This one starts with the following intro to every question in the first part: "YOU NEED NOT HAVE PERSONALLY SEEN OR EXPERIENCED THE ACTIONS. During your last 30 workdays at your duty location what do you estimate the chance that the action below COULD have happened? ...". And the question is always to estimate the probability (select the radio button, with five choices, from "very high chance" to "almost no chance") of a certain scenario, such as: "A younger person was selected for a prestigious assignment over an older person who was equally, if not slightly better qualified" or "An older individual did not get the same career opportunities as did a younger individual", or variations for gender and race and stuff.

Which basically means... anything. Over a hundred people work in this building. There are less than half a dozen who I know well enough and of whom I think highly enough that I could swear to their integrity and fair-mindedness. Could such discrimination have happened in the past 30 days? Sure!

Or another question. The test is now asking about a range from total agreement to total disagreement with statements like "Becoming a part of this organization was definitely not in my best interests." Well, the unemployment rate is around 10 percent right now, according to Google, so damn few people would consider this job worse than nothing. And for all that I've been complaining about it recently, this job pays better than my last one and is generally lower-stress.

However, any division which had a 100 percent participation rate on this survey would get cupcakes, so it was worth the time. Assuming of course everyone else fills it out as well, in which case this will turn into a lesson on collective action problems...

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