June 25, 2011

"People who fill out so-called bubble forms — known to anyone who’s taken a standardized test — use distinctive pencil strokes that can later be used to identify them..."

"... Princeton University computer scientists have found. The techniques they developed could be used to catch cheaters on tests, the researchers say, but also for less benign purposes."

26 comments:

vet66 said...

It appears that Columbia has too much time on their hands or it is time to justify another grant extenuation for stupid studies such as the one cited. It would be cheaper to change the bubble forms for something a little edgier, such as essay questions.

wv; dictric
What the person was performing during the study.

Fred4Pres said...

Cheaters? When you cheat on such a test you generally do not have someone else taking it for you., do you? You are looking at someone else's paper, no?

I never cheated on such a test (really). But perhaps someone who knows can enlighten us how it is done.

Hagar said...

Filling out bubble forms is an important skill for gaining access to U.S. higher education, but has no other known use.

MarkW said...

Cheaters? When you cheat on such a test you generally do not have someone else taking it for you., do you? You are looking at someone else's paper, no?

Teachers and schools have been caught cheating on their students standardized tests. One such case was discussed in Freakonomics:

http://freakonomicsbook.com/freakonomics/chapter-excerpts/chapter-1/

They were caught because there were students who did very poorly -- except their scores were pulled up by an amazing run of correct answers on the harder problems at the end of the standardized tests (teachers were filling in correct answers to parts of the tests that weak students hadn't been able to finish and left blank).

Skyler said...

More people bad at math.

Guessing one out of eight 51% of the time is interesting, but not terribly useful.

Having the right person in a group consisting of 37.5% of the population is just about useless.

madAsHell said...

Next up....
Palm reading, tea leaves and phrenology.

Hey...Where's Crack? He loves the pseudo-sciences!!

Milwaukee said...

1. Standardized testing is doing much to make the test writers rich, and just institutionalizing stupidity. The best predictor of success on the ACT and SAT is family income. The only student I ever worked with who had perfect marks on both was the third child in a family of three children, he had two older sisters, and both his parents were practicing physicians.
2. A few years ago they discovered people cheating on the Business Graduate School exam. They caught them cheating, and then the cheaters gave up the names of their clients. So, if the only way the business schools involved could tell that their students had cheated on the entrance exam was by having the students ratted out, what is the point of the entrance exam? You mean the papers they wrote didn't reveal them? The tests they took in class didn't reveal them? The exams were hoops designed to reject candidates for reasons not related to graduate school.

Milwaukee said...

While writing the answers on the board, or erasing students wrong answers is one approach, and the Freakonomics reference is good, there are other ways to "cheat".

My previous school, grades 9-12, had state testing in grade 10. One year they started a special scheduling program for 9th graders. To show it would work, in the previous year all that was required of 9th graders to be promoted to the 10th grade was that they had to be able to fog a mirror put under their noses. Thus the first year of the special program our 10th grade scores were miserable. The next year, all in the 10th grade were promoted to the 11th grade, and undesirable 9th graders were flunked. Viola! The next 10th grade class had marvelous scores. The Superintendent and Principal received performance bonuses. Of course the following year the 10th grade scores plummeted. But hey, the Superintendent and Principal were on their way to other places.

While that trick can't happen every year, other tricks are possible. Students will repeat the 9th grade, and so avoid the 10th grade test. But then, miraculously, they would get enough credits to be in the 11th grade the following year. Viola! They were never tested. That was in Wisconsin, which has organized professionals teaching. Heck, that school district even had an organization for principals.

Illinois requires all students to take the high school exam in the school year during which they are 16-years old, regardless of grade level.

rhhardin said...

I use a different color crayon for each question.

Ann Althouse said...

"Cheaters? When you cheat on such a test you generally do not have someone else taking it for you., do you? You are looking at someone else's paper, no?"

On important standardized tests like the SAT, there supposedly is this kind of cheating.

Carol_Herman said...

Tests are trick questions. And, you can teach technique. For instance, on multiple choice questions, read from the bottom up.

e) is a clue.

Is it all of the above? Here, most people are so happy to see 'A' is right, that they answer by picking it. And, look no further.

If you read 'E' first, you then see the array going from 'D' ... to 'A.'

And, then, when I went back to college late in life, I had already learned to read footnotes. Professors, even when their tests are easy, stick in something most people haven't even looked at.

I got so good at my "system" ... that to study for a test, all I did was read a book's Index.

Being nearsighted early in life, I never did get the hang of reading someone else's answer sheet.

And, with time, I never did add respect to tests of any sort.

Heck, tests are what's killed history. Who cares if I remember John Quincy Adams coming in second, but making a deal with Henry Clay, whom he gave the Secretary of War cabinet seat. In return for "picking him" as president. I used to carry around the date as "1832." But I think this is wrong.

I think memorizing dates, instead of corruptive and corrosive political tactics is a waste of time.

So, now I "pick" that this happened in 1828.

You know? It doesn't matter!

What matters, though, is to know BOTH of the ADAMS were only one-termers.

We didn't get this lucky with Dubya, because Kerry stunk worse.

Milwaukee said...

Tests are frequently like the drunk looking under the street light for his keys. When the cop asks him if he is sure his keys are there, the drunk says no. He points off in the darkness and says there over there. The cop asks why are we looking here? The drunk says 'this is where the light is'.

Dates are important because they help sort out the time line of what happened when. That the American Revolution happened before the French Revolution is important, as is the failed German revolt before our Civil War. History needs to be taught as more than just a collection of dates, the story needs to work with the dates.

Besides, George Washington was born in 1732, and 1.732 is an approximation for the square root of 3. Andrew Jackson, our seventh President, was elected twice, the first time in 1828. Fortunately e is approximately 2.718281828.

edutcher said...

And the guys who discovered this are the ones not writing viruses.

PS Carol may know who was Secretary of War, but does she know what happened today?

traditionalguy said...

"If you are not cheating, you are not trying." That is a quote from The High Prophet AlGore himself.

Carol_Herman said...

Milwaukee, you show your ignorance!

Andrew Jackson was elected THREE TIMES!

First, in 1828. When his majority win was stolen by Henry Clay. Who was Speaker of the House! And, it involved faked electoral votes from Florida.

Andrew Jackson was an old man. Who then won BOTH following elections: 1832. And, 1836.

You don't have to memorize dates to know how politicians are in cahoots ... to "fix" elections.

Yet the good news is that BOTH Adams were one-termers.

If you want to know your history, think viscerally.

Carol_Herman said...

eDutcher ... Since you're so fixated on cabinet chair titles ... And, not on monkey business ... How can I help you out?

There was monkey business then.

And, there's still monkey business, going on today.

Andrew Jackson was a GIANT. Among our 44, few were giants.

But only Bill Clinton's penis got described.

Pick the information you want to have.

All of our 44 had penises, you know?

YoungHegelian said...

@carol,

"Andrew Jackson was a GIANT..."

And, take a wild, woolly guess as to why they called him "Old Hickory".

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more! say no more!

Milwaukee said...

Man, I hope I don't have to take a test on either Andrew Jackson or Eevolution.

Carol, I'll have to modify the story. Would "He served two terms as President." be more accurate? Since many of my students have little clue as to who Andrew Jackson was, they never challenged my telling of it.

Hagar said...

Andrew Jackson was elected to a third term disguised as Martin van Buren?
Who knew!?

mariner said...

Milwaukee,
Dates are important because they help sort out the time line of what happened when. That the American Revolution happened before the French Revolution is important, as is the failed German revolt before our Civil War.

Dates are the signposts that tell us where we are on different roads. History is too big to be taught as one big subject, so we learn it in pieces and put the pieces together with dates.

People who remember a few dates in English history might understand why "Jamestown" is located in "Virginia", and how Shakespeare's "The Tempest" might be related to those.

Others might know from the dates that while American colonists were fighting for independence, Mozart and Haydn were composing great works of music.

ken in sc said...

Andrew Jackson is the guy on the twenty dollar bill who was a hothead who lived in a society where it was OK to shoot someone who insulted your wife. He is hated by American Indians, but he raised an adopted Indian boy as his own son. One of my ancestors received two land grants in Alabama for fighting with him in two Indian Wars—that was their veterans benefit in those days. He died with a pistol ball in his chest after it being there for five years from a previous gun fight. He probably died of lead poisoning. He was born on the border between North and South Carolina and both states claim him.

ken in sc said...

Jackson is the one with the pistol ball, not my ancestor.

Roux said...

Then put the tests on a computer. Why are these people so behind the times? The standardized tests in La. for elementary and secondary ed. are on bubble forms. Many times the kids don't know if they have passed until after school has ended and decisions about advancement have already been made.

Put it on a damn computer and at the end have a button that says "grade my test".

Lucius said...

@Carol_Herman: Carol, it's 1824, the JQA triumph over Andy Jackson!

And he made Clay Secretary of State.

I see your overall point, and I can nod my head with it, to a degree. But how can one make hay of political manuevers without mastering a bit of minutiae? Chronology is part of reality too-- a *big* part.

Anyway, the Adamses were terrific. JQA had a terrific agenda lined up. Yes, he didn't get far at all, & yes, the Adams temperament, but-- indignant Jackson stood in the way of progress!

It was perfectly fair to do a little vote-swapping. Jackson just couldn't stand defying da will o da People.

I'm not completely down on Jackson, but-- there are issues.

Shrugging off the insignificance of one mis-cited date with another mis-cited date, it feels a little . . . loose.

Milwaukee said...

The Feds insist on testing in the fall so that programming decisions, both for the student and the school, can be made in the spring using that data. At my previous school, that data was so bad it wasn't revealed until after the students were done for the year, and all the decisions about the next year had been made.

Southern schools, with their air-conditioning, get a jump of a couple of weeks on northern schools. The Wisconsin Tourism Federation (WTF) lobbied the legislature so school may not start until after September 1, so parents could still their kiddies to the Dells. If a student is in a fall sport, those start in mid-August and vacationing is over. My daughter played tennis, a fall sport, and had 5 of 8 conference tournaments before school even started.

Wisconsin has two day program, the WEAC convention, the last Thursday and Friday in October, unless the Friday is the 31st. My school usually scheduled testing during those 3 days, in direct contradiction of the testing instructions. But hey, it was inconvenient and we wanted to get it over with. We usually ranked among the bottom 20 in the state. Not the bottom 20%, just the bottom 20.

Revenant said...

The standardized tests in La. for elementary and secondary ed. are on bubble forms. Many times the kids don't know if they have passed until after school has ended and decisions about advancement have already been made.

That's because the educational system is slow to let them know. The tests themselves are graded and loaded into a reporting system for analysis within a few days at most (depending on how the actual scanning is handled).